|Self Portrait by Judith Leyster, 1630s, Holland|
"Judith Jans Leyster (also Leijster) (July 28, 1609 – February 10, 1660) was a Dutch Golden Age painter. She was one of three significant women artists in Dutch Golden Age painting; the other two, Rachel Ruysch and Maria van Oosterwijk, were specialized painters of flower still-lifes, while Leyster painted genre works, a few portraits, and a single still life. The number of surviving works attributed to her varies between fewer than 20 and about 35. She largely gave up painting after her marriage, which produced five children.
(see Berthe Morisot's Girl with a Parrot)
"Leyster was born in Haarlem as the eighth child of Jan Willemsz Leyster, a local brewer and clothmaker. While the details of her training are uncertain, in her teens she was well enough known to be mentioned in a Dutch book by Samuel Ampzing titled Beschrijvinge ende lof der stadt Haerlem, originally written in 1621, revised in 1626-27, and published in 1628.
"She learned to paint from Frans Pietersz de Grebber, who was running a respected workshop in Haarlem in the 1620s. Her first known signed work is dated 1629, four years before entering the artist's guild. By 1633, she was a member of the Haarlem Guild of St. Luke, the second woman to be registered there (the first women registered was Sara van Baalbergen in 1631, who like Leyster, was not a member of an established artist family in Haarlem."
"Leyster's Self-Portrait offers a tantalizing glimpse of the artist and reveals much about her views of herself and her chosen profession. [...] Although she appears to be dressed in her best apparel her manner is relaxed, almost casual. Her pose reflects a good deal of self-confidence. One arm is boldly propped up on the filial of her chair. She leans back and gazes directly at the viewer. Her smiling, opened mouth suggests a 'speaking portrait,' as if she wishes to make a statement. [...] In her hands she hold the implements of her trade. Before her, on her easel, is a painting of a laughing fiddler, the same figure that appears in her "Merry Company."
"Leyster's portrayal of herself as a confident young artist dressed to the height of fashion and proudly displaying her work certainly gives the impression of a 'competent' artist, no shy newcomer. Here is a painter who is well aware of the contemporary art world and her desired place whithin it. This attitude reflects much of what we know about the actual facts of her life. She was, after all, only twenty-four when she established her own painting studio in 1633."