Leyster, Judith

Leyster, Judith, 1609–60, painter of Holland's 17th-century “golden age,” one of the few women artists prior to the late 19th cent. whose work has been recognized. She is thought to have studied with Frans Hals and was one of only two 17th-century women granted membership (1633) in Haarlem's prestigious painters guild, the Guild of St. Luke. Leyster had her own workshop and took on students. Her known oeuvre consists of approximately 20 paintings: portraits, particularly striking portrayals of musicians and merrymakers; various genre scenes; and perhaps her best-known work, a lively, engaging self portrait (c.1632–33; National Gall. of Art, Washington, D.C.). Leyster's paintings feature dynamic brushwork, bright color, and an unusually dramatic use of light and shadow. She married (1636) the painter Jan Miense Molenaer (c.1610–68); only two known paintings date from after her marriage. Virtually forgotten after her death, she was rediscovered in the 1890s.

See illustrated catalog ed. by P. Biesboer and J. A. Welu (1993); study by F. F. Hofrichter (1989).

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