Mini Biography: Judith Leyster

Birth: July 28, 1609
Death: Feb. 10, 1660
Nationality: Dutch
Movement: Baroque
Born into a family who owned and operated a Brewery Leyster may have made painting a career at age 19 due to her father’s financial situation. She painted for a few years before becoming a member of the Haarlem Guild of St. Luke. She signed her work with the initials JL attached to a star which referenced both the name of the brewery Leister and a mariner’s term Lead Star. The painting, The Proposition, which is housed in the Mauritshuis in The Hague is considered to be an example of the Merry Company genre which typically involves groups of people drinking and references to prostitution. Leyster’s painting has been reconsidered and reassessed from a feminist perspective since the 1990’s. The majority of Leyster’s work was completed before her marriage with only 4 pieces attributed to her after 1635. Despite her successful career Leyster was forgotten after her death and her oeuvre was credited to either her husband, artist Jan Miense Molenaer, or Frans Hals, a prolific painter who also lived and worked in Haarlem. In 1893, a painting called The Jolly Companions, that had been thought to be the work of Frans Hals was found to be Leyster’s.
Some of her notable work includes The Proposition pictured below and used for the header image, Self-Portrait (c. 1633), and Young Flute Player (n.d.)
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Leyster, Judith. The Proposition (1631), Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis,  Netherlands.
To read more about Judith Leyster or her artwork please visit:
National Gallery of Art 
National Museum of Women in the Arts
The Paris Review
The New York Times
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