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Friday, 21 January 2011

Artwork of the day

Self-portrait, Judith Leyster, 1630, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. 
Different from the previous Dutch portraits examined this week not only because it's not a wedding painting, but also because it is a self portrait. This work by Judith Leyster exhibits the way she sees herself not only as a person but also as an artist. Interestingly enough she chooses to do so by smiling to the spectator, posing relaxed in front of an equally happy painting and holding the tools of her craft. She is a genre artist and proudly exhibits so. At the same time she is an upper class lady and her clothes –which she would not wear while working- show this status along with her profession as an artist. What is remarkable about this painting –apart from the skill of Leyster- is the fact that she chose to differentiate herself from the tradition in self-portraits that dictated a more severe look from the sitter/artist.This joyfulness and informality underlines most of her work (two examples are presented below) like that of her teacher Frans Hals. 
The concert, Judith Leyster, 1633, oil on canvas, National Museum of Women in Arts, Washington D.C.

Two children with a cat, Judith Leyster, 1629, oil on canvas, private collection

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