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 Judith Leyster

Judith Leyster

Birth
Haarlem, Haarlem Municipality, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Death 10 Feb 1660 (aged 50)
Heemstede, Heemstede Municipality, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Burial Heemstede, Heemstede Municipality, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Memorial ID 39889076 · View Source
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Painter. A noted Dutch artist in her own day who was essentially "lost" for 200 years, her paintings are characterized by the use of bold colors and lighting to depict smiling people making music. Raised in Haarlem by a fairly well-off, at least initially, family, her early training remains somewhat clouded though by 1628 she had attracted enough notice to be mentioned in a book on Dutch art by Samuel Ampzing. Judith was thought by some to have studied with Frans de Grebber but it is considered more likely that she learned under Frans Hals, whom she was later to sue successfully for taking one of her students, as her technique and subject matter more closely resemble his. By 1633 she was one of two female members of the Haarlem Guild of St. Luke, the 1630 self-portrait possibly the "master's piece" presented to the guild as her credential for membership. During her active career Judith would have had two sources of income, portraits done on commission and "genre works" painted for the open-market, with the roughly 35 verified paintings we have today showing examples of both. In 1636 Judith married successful Haarlem painter Jan Miense Molenaer (1610-1668) and thereafter largely concentrated on her family and business interests. By the end of the 1600s she was forgotten. There were two reasons for this: following her marriage her identity largely folded into that of her husband, an inventory made after his death designating many of her paintings as simply "Molenaer", "Miss Molenaer", or even "wife". Further, Judith had an unusual way of signing her work using the monogram "JL*" (literally, "lodestar"). In 1893 an art historian at The Louvre found that a "Frans Hals" in the museum's collection had been wrongly attributed and was actually a Judith Leyster. The researcher had located the JL* monogram, which a dealer had attempted to cover, leading to a further search for the unique signature and the correct attribution of the body of work seen today in most of the world's leading art galleries. Through most of her life after marriage Judith lived in Amsterdam though she and her husband owned a number of properties in one of which, near Haarlem, she is buried. She has been the subject of a number of major exhibitions including a 400th. birthday celebration at the National Gallery of Art. Her name is occasionally misrendered "Leijster".

Bio by: Bob Hufford


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
  • Added: 26 Jul 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 39889076
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Judith Leyster (28 Jul 1609–10 Feb 1660), Find A Grave Memorial no. 39889076, citing Molenaer Family Cemetery, Heemstede, Heemstede Municipality, Noord-Holland, Netherlands ; Maintained by Find A Grave .