Rachel Ruysch

Dutch, 1664-1750

Rachel’s fascination for flowers and insects began as a child; her father was a botanist and introduced her to the study of the natural world. She continued this work in her still-life paintings which often included specimens from many different seasons. This is what we see behind Rachel in Jane’s painting; flowers from different times of the year remind the viewer of the passing of time. The inclusion of insects informs us of Rachel’s role as a naturalist. When you look at Rachel you are looking at someone who is much like many women we know today. She was very successful in her lifetime, which can be largely attributed to the support of her family who must have realized and valued Rachel’s incredible earning power. She was a well-off artist and the mother of ten children; her husband ran the household while she worked. The still-lifes that she produced in 17th-century Holland originally sold for high prices and are still considered to be consummate examples of the genre, and the popularity of her works has never waned.

Original Works Referenced

Constantin Netscher
Portrait of Rachel Ruysch
in Her Studio
1710
Raleigh
North Carolina Museum of Art

Fruit Flowers and Insects
1717
Florence
Palazzo Pitti

Flowers
London
Collection of Mr and
Mrs. S. M. Beeb