Bilders received his first drawing lessons from his father, the landscape painter Johannes Warnardus Bilders. Bilders was born in Utrecht, where he lived until 1856, though from 1841 to 1845 the Bilders family lived in Oosterbeek, a village near Arnhem which later became a major centre for painters. In 1857 Bilders moved to The Hague. From the start of his artistic career, Bilders's focus was on landscape painting. In the Mauritshuis museum he copied Paulus Potter's landscapes with cattle and for a while he was the pupil of landscape and animal painter Charles Humbert in Switzerland.
Later he began painting in the area around Leiden, often painting meadows with cattle. Here he tried to reproduce the moods that the landscape evoked by using peculiar light effects as well as 'a colored, fragrant warm grey.' When he mixed all the colors of the palette with grey to get this effect, he was usually dissatisfied with the result. This attempt foreshadows the tonal painting style of the Hague School painters.
He returned to Oosterbeek for some time where he met Anton Mauve and the Maris brothers. He died in Amsterdam when he was only 26.
- Sillevis, John and Tabak, Anne, The Hague School Book, Waanders Uitgegevers, Zwolle, 2004 (pp 281–387)
- Bilders, Gerard at the Netherlands Institute for Art History.
- Media related to Paintings by Gerard Bilders in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam at Wikimedia Commons