Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Good Career..

JUDITH LEYSTER/ self portrait/ circa 1632-1633
A WOMAN NAMED JUDITH LEYSTER, 1609-1660, HAD A CAREER IN ART 400 YEARS AGO IN HOLLAND. One might say that Leyster was ahead of her time, but the expanding culture of art in the Netherlands in the 17th Century was an open door to creativity. It was said that everyone was a collector, that even farmhouses were decorated with paintings.
In her self portrait, above, she turns to us, greets us with warmth and a smile, and invites us to view what she does best...paint. She wasn't amongst the greatest, such as Rembrandt, but she was considered to be very good, and the 400th Anniversary of her birth is being celebrated. After training with such as Frans Hals, she earned membership in the prestigious guild of St. Luke in Haarlem.

A Game of Tric Trac/ circa 1631
She had her own workshop, her own students and her own style, one that combined the brushwork of Hals, and the chiaroscuro of Caravaggio. But her story took a familiar turn. She married a painter, Jan Miense Molenaer, had three children and painted less and less frequently. As her husband's art grew in popularity, hers diminished. Perhaps the demands of domesticity replaced her artistic talent, as has often been the case.

Young Flute Player/ circa 1635
Many of her paintings were attributed to other artists and weren't properly identified until the 1890's. Her art reflects a humor and engagement that surely emphasizes her personality. She is being honored now with an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC., through November 29, 2009.
xMerry Company/ circa 1630-1631
The National Gallery show includes just 10 of her paintings featuring her self portrait. The exhibition was organized by the curator of Northern Baroque painting, Arthur J. Wheelock, Jr.
Then as now it may have been difficult for a woman to have everything, but not impossible to try. This woman found a way to be creative, to be dedicated. To be an artist. And quite special enough to be saluted 400 years later.


Unknown said...

Hello Lyn,

Obviously a trailblazer! But maybe the Dutch were forward thinking? In an age when women were simply part of a man's chattels (!) it is interesting to see how variously they were looked upon in different countries.

Lyn said...

Hi Derrick-
I agree with you about the forward thinking Dutch..and individualistic..a path that exists till today. Fairness? Seems so..

Jeane Myers said...

I love that her subjects all seem to be having fun and are engaged in an activity - wonderful post Lyn :)

Lyn said...

Hi Jeane-
I was thinking of you and your wonderful art when I was doing this..both have so much perserverence!

Butternut Squash said...

I love the style of Judith Leyster. It is warm and down to earth. It is funny that I was writting to a woman about developing a good career in art just before I looked at your post.

Lyn said...

Hi Butternut-
A bit of synchronicity there, I guess..thank you.
I think Leyster had that zest that the Dutch portray so well..

Natalie said...

Wonderful post thanks Lyn. Good on her for following her dreams and creativity SO long ago.xx♥

Lyn said...

Hi Natalie-
What I love is that the culture was so accepting! That she even had students..great..thank you!

A Cuban In London said...

A very common story. There were indeed many female painters in Holland in those years but they were upstaged by their male counterparts and not fo lack of quality but because they were burdened with child-rearing and domestic chores. Many thanks for introducing me to this fantastic artist. I had never heard of her before.

Greetings from London.

Lyn said...

Greetings to A Cuban-
All that is is always a pleasure to discover such delghtful work! I'll keep my eyes open!!


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