A few years ago I wrote a blog post about two female painters, successful during their respective times despite overwhelming male dominance.

One of those painters is Judith Leyster (1609-1660). Born in Haarlem, the most important artistic center of Holland in the early part of the seventeenth century, she was a rare female master painter during the Dutch Golden Age. This was the same time as Rembrandt and Vermeer. Leyster was so renowned as a painter that she joined the Haarlem painter's guild as an independent master in 1633, a rarity for a female painter. Her "masters" piece painting that she presented to the Guild is now a top highlight at the National Gallery:

Self-Portrait (1630)

  Another Leyster painting on view...

Young Boy in Profile (1630)

Most of Leyster's dated works are from 1629–1635. In 1636 Judith Leyster married fellow Haarlem-native Jan Miense Molenaer (1610-1668) who was known for his genre paintings or scenes of everyday life. There are no painting by Molenaer in the permanent collection of the National Gallery, but this painting from a private collection was on view:

The Lute Player (1640)

Once married with children, Leyster did not produce any paintings under her own name, but probably continued to work in collaboration with her husband.

Many times Leyster's paintings have been attributed to the most famous Haarlem painter, Frans Hals. Leyster's relationship with Frans Hals is actually unclear; she could have been a fellow painter or his student because their styles are so similar. You can compare this portrait by Hals with Leyster's self-portrait shown above.

Willem Coymans (1645)

Frans Hals was famous for his dazzling brushwork and often used informal poses to enliven his portraits.   

Portrait of a Man (1648-1650)

Adriaen van Ostade (1645/1648)

Portrait of an Elderly Lady (1633)

I will continue my tour of the Dutch collection at the National Gallery in my next blog post.

The National Gallery of Art is located on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets along Constitution Avenue.
  • Admission is always FREE.
  • Open Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Open Sunday: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Closed on December 25 and January 1. 
All photos in this blog post were taken by me during my visit in September, 2013.

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