Godfried Schalcken or Gottfried Schalken (1643 – November 16, 1706), was a Dutch genre and portrait painter. He was noted for his mastery in reproducing the effect of candlelight, and painted in the exquisite and highly polished manner of the Leiden fijnschilders.
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 returned 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 Düsseldorf. He died in The Hague.
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 specialized in small scenes lit by candlelight, a technique that found favour with the fijnschilders (fine art painters). 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), Woman (National Museum of Serbia), 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.
The atmospheric work of Schalcken provided the inspiration for Sheridan Le Fanu's gothic horror story Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter (sic), which was adapted as Schalcken the Painter, and broadcast by the BBC on 23 December in 1979.