Judith leyster

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Judith Leyster

Judith Leyster was a Dutch painter born in Haarlem on 1609. Judith’s name and work was long forgotten in the history of art until the mid-19th century when there was a rediscovery of her works and began to create fascination among art historians. Adding to this disappearance of Leyster is the fact that her work has always been confused with that of Frans Hals or some otherrenowned artists of the period. To quote Frima Fox Hofrichter “Leyster’s oeuvre and reputation languished in obscurity, while her works were attributed, one after another, to artists whose works are still remembered”. She competed with other artists such as Frans Hals, Dirck Hals and Jan Miense Molenaer. Her work covers a wide range of interests such as genre scenes, still-life and portraits.Judith Leyster was the daughter of Jan Willemsz, cloth maker and owner of a brewery called Leystar, from where Judith’s family took its last name. Besides the regular education that the Leyster children received such as reading, writing and arithmetic, she was also given the opportunity to study painting. Jan Willemsz possibly produced fabrics with figures or patterns drawn by artists which may explainthe reason why Judith studied painting. She might have started her education at the age of eleven with Frans Pietersz de Grebber, one of the leading artists of Haarlem at the time, he was a portrait and history painter, he had received commissions from various organizations in Haarlem and commissions to paint group portraits of the civic guard or biblical scenes for institutions. The selection ofsuch master may be because de Grebber had another girl working in his shop, Maria de Grebber. There were not a lot of women painters in the seventeenth century Haarlem and Judith’s talent was noticeable at a very early stage of her career¸ however this almost ended when in 1624 her father was forced to declare bankruptcy. Due to this, the family moved to Vreeland near Utrecht where supposedly shecame in contact with the Utrecht Caravaggisti, a term given to a group of painters strongly influenced by Caravaggio’s work. The three main artists of this style are Baburen, Honthorst, and Terbrugghen. All of them lived in Rome in the decade 1610–1620, a time when the chiaroscuro of Caravaggio's later style was very influential. Utrecht was the main Dutch center of Catholicism at this time, andall these artists painted religious subjects and genre scenes. Through these artists, many of the seventeenth century masters of Dutch painting became in contact with the Caravaggio style. The Utrecth Caravaggist innovations like pictorial effects of candlelight are noticeable in Leyster’s work in a lesser degree of intensity, which may suggest that she came in contact with such style throughFrans Hals’s circle of painters.

It is not clear if Judith Leyster was ever Frans Hals’s student or if she worked with him in his studio since there is no documentation to prove so, however Hals’s style and subjects clearly influenced Leyster’s work but her technique is different, proving that she had her training in other artist’s studio. If she did work with Hals as an advanced pupil orassistant, it must have been between 1629 and 1633 after her return to Haarlem. In 1633 she became a master painter and was admitted to the Haarlem Guild of St. Luke. Judith was twenty four years old and for such occasion she painted Self-portrait (1630). In it, Leyster depicts herself at the easel wearing the finest of her clothes. A lace collar rings her neck and bars her own view to the palette sheholds. On her easel she's painted a canvas of the kind she was famous for a genre scene of a musician. This self portrait is meant to highlight talent and status.

After her entrance to the guild Leyster established herself as an independent painter with a servant, opened her own shop and had some students of her own. This was quite impressive for a painter woman at the time; she is the only...
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