Godfried Schalcken was born in 1643 at Dordrecht, and he studied under Samuel van Hoogstraten in Dordrecht before he moved to Leiden, into the studio of Gerard Dou (1613-1675), one of Rembrandt's most famous pupils. His earlier genre pictures very closely resemble Dou's work. He worked in Leiden until c. 1675, then returning to Dordrecht until 1691, after which he settled in The Hague, where he continued to paint until his death, near age 63, in 1706. He also visited England (1692-1697), but his uncouth manners and bad temper alienated him from the society there. In 1703 he was employed by Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine in D??sseldorf.
Mary Stanhope, Viscountess Fane, detail, 1702.Schalcken painted several portraits, of which the half-length of William III of England, now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, is a good example. Like Dou, Schalcken specialised in small scenes it by candlelight, a technique that found favour with the fijnschilders. Examples are in Buckingham Palace, the Louvre, Vienna and Dresden. His painting, Lady, Come into the Garden (Buckingham Palace), was singled out by his pupil Arnold Houbraken as representative of his oeuvre. Other good examples are Old Woman Scouring a Pan and Soldier Giving Money to a Woman (London, National Gallery), Ceres Seeking Proserpine and Old Man Writing (Louvre), Girl Blowing Out Taper (Munich), Girl Reading Letter (Dresden Gallery), The Boy Angling (Berlin); and Toilet by Candle (The Hague). The Buckingham Palace collection also possesses an interior by Schalcken. His history paintings are less-well known.