Judith Leyster, Self Portrait, National Gallery of Art Washington

Judith Leyster, Self Portrait, oil on canvas, 74.6x65.1cm, c. 1630. National Gallery of Art, Washington

Judith Leyster

Self Portrait

Oil on canvas, 74.6 x 65.1 cm, c. 1630

One of the most well known female painters from the Dutch Golden Age, Judith Leyster (1609-1660) hailed from Haarlem, on the west coast of The Netherlands. She is most well known for her lively and character-ful genre scenes, often depicting laughing people or people playing instruments. She clearly had a special skill in evoking a fun and open atmosphere in her paintings. This is also visible in her fanatstic self portrait, where she turns to us as if she is in the middle of a conversation with us. She seems really alive in this painting, with her arm resting on the chair for just a moment, her mouth open in mid sentence.  She was just 21 when she painted this portrait. An active and professional painter in her own right, Judith was mostly active before her marriage to a fellow painter. Her vibrant brush strokes remind us of Frans Hals, who was active in Haarlem at the same time and the two must have known each other. Check out the bold brush work in her red skirt, sleeve and lace work!

National Gallery of Art, Washington

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About the author 


Sophie is an art historian, artist, art tutor, and writer. She writes on art history and painting (oils and pastel). The 17th century is probably her favourite era, although the ancient Romans are currently fighting for the lead spot. She is currently researching lace in Tudor portraiture.

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