Born in Zwolle, the Netherlands, Gerard ter Borch’s
first art instruction was with his father, who provided him
with a solid training in drawing. Even at the age of eight,
Gerard produced penetrating studies from life. Recording the
world he saw around him, he developed an acute appreciation
for realistic detail—a talent that would characterize
his art throughout his career.
In 1633, Ter Borch moved to Haarlem. There, he studied with
the landscape artist, Pieter Molijn. Ter Borch was also introduced
to Haarlem’s tradition of “genre painting.”
The term genre refers to subjects that focus on scenes of
everyday life, from elegant festivities to raucous peasant
In 1632 and during the first half of the 1640s, Ter Borch
frequently worked in Amsterdam. There he was exposed to artists
who executed small-scale paintings on oak panels that attained
a refined degree of finish. Ter Borch would have admired Pieter
Codde’s exquisite rendering of fashionable attire, Thomas
de Keyser’s dapper full-length portraits, and Willem
Duyster’s enigmatic representations of soldiers in pursuit
of pleasure or quietude in formal interiors.
The Swearing of the Oath of Ratification of the Treaty
of Münster, 15 May 1648, 1648; Oil on copper. The
National Gallery. Photo: © National Gallery, London.