Judith Leyster

Dutch, 1609-1660

Judith addresses us with the confidence you would expect from a woman who, in 17th-century Holland, managed to acquire the same level of training as her male colleagues. This led to a workshop of her own with male students. The figures to her right are typical of the genre paintings that she produced during her brief career; they represent the musicians and revelers that were standard fare in her paintings. The modeling of color on the players exhibits elements of “tenebrism”—figures emerging from darkness into bright light—that often washed over her subjects and added a sense of foreboding to her seemingly lighthearted paintings. Judith stopped producing genre paintings after she married a fellow artist, Jan Miense Molenaer, and both artists documented their union in several paintings. It is likely that after the marriage they combined their respective workshops and Judith assisted her husband with the production of his paintings.

1 Deanne Beausoleil, “Judith Leyster: A Woman’s Perspective of Unequal Couples. (lecture, Savannah College of Art and Design, Art History Colloquium, Spring 1999).

Original Works Referenced

Self-portrait
c. 1632-1633
Washington D. C.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss
National Gallery of Art

Young Flute Player
c. 1635
Stockholm
Nationalmuseum

The Last Drop
c. 1630-1631
John G. Johnson Collection
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Serenade
1629
Amsterdam
Rijksmuseum