Urgent Museum Notice

Judith Leyster

Half-length interior painting of a smiling light-skinned adult woman with dark hair pulled back. She wears a white bonnet and dark-color dress with white lace trim and large collar. She leans back in a chair before a painting, holding a paintbrush, palette, and white cloth.

Judith Leyster, Self Portrait, ca.1630; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss; © Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

1609–1660

Leyster produced most of her paintings between approximately 1629 and 1635; her artistic output decreased dramatically after her marriage in 1636. In addition to raising her children, Leyster may have managed the family’s business and properties; she probably also assisted with her husband’s art. By 1649, the family returned from Amsterdam to Haarlem, where Leyster spent the remainder of her life.

Her work was clearly influenced by genre paintings created by noted Haarlem artist Frans Hals, which led to attribution errors. Although well known during her lifetime, Leyster and her work were largely forgotten after her death until 1893, when a painting acquired by the Louvre was found to have Leyster’s distinctive monogram (her initials entwined with a five-pointed star) hidden under a false signature reading “Frans Hals.” This discovery led to renewed research and appreciation of Leyster’s oeuvre, which had previously been confused with that of Hals.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Judith Leyster
  • Birth

    Haarlem, the Netherlands, 1609
  • Death

    Heemstede, the Netherlands, 1660
  • Phonetic Spelling

    YOO-diht (L-EYE)-sterr

Works by Judith Leyster

The Concert

Along with tavern scenes and intimate domestic genre pieces, Judith Leyster frequently painted musical performance scenes. In The Concert, Leyster accurately depicts elements such as the Baroque violin (made without a chin rest and usually supported against the chest), as well as the woman’s songbook.

The figures shown here are likely portraits. Based on similar individuals in Leyster’s other pictures, scholars...

Painting of a trio of smiling musicians. On the left, a man wears a large black hat and plays the violin. On the right sits a man in orange wearing a feathered hat and playing the mandolin. In the center sits a woman dressed in black, opening her mouth in song.