Anna Maria von Schurman

Dutch, 1607-1678

Anna Maria spoke and read many languages, studied and wrote about philosophy and theology, and produced paintings, prints, and drawings. She was considered such a phenomenon that it was arranged for her to attend regular university classes in Leyden and Utrecht. The experience of receiving a formal university education led her to become a champion of education for girls. Jane’s painting focuses on an image of the artist—alert and quick-witted—gazing at the viewer. Behind Anna Maria, girls are practicing needlepoint, a traditional part of their education in 17th-century Holland. Energy wells up from them and spreads over the canvas, conveying how Anna Maria must have felt: girls needed more rigorous and thought-provoking subjects than their traditional limited education provided. Anna Maria dedicated the final years of her life to the study of theology, one of the few subjects appropriate for a woman to study in depth.

Original Works Referenced

Jan Lievens the Elder
Portrait of Anna Maria Van Schurman
1649
London
The National Gallery

Self-portrait
n.d.
Franeker
Collection of City Hall

Self-portrait
1640
Drypoint
Washington D.C.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
Holladay Collection

Self-portrait
1640
Engraving with etching
Washington D.C.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
Holladay Collection