Press Room

First museum exhibition focused on Dutch and Flemish women artists of the 17th century, featuring a recently rediscovered self-portrait by Judith Leyster

Sep 05 2019

WASHINGTON—The first exhibition to explore the contributions of women artists during the Dutch Golden Age will be on view at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) from Oct. 11, 2019, to Jan. 5, 2020. Women Artists of the Dutch Golden Age presents approximately 20 paintings and prints dating from 1610 through 1719 by eight successful artists in the Netherlands during the 17th and early 18th centuries. Drawn primarily from NMWA’s collection, the exhibition features paintings and prints by Judith Leyster, Maria Sibylla Merian, Magdalena van de Passe, Clara Peeters, Rachel Ruysch, Maria Schalcken, Anna Maria van Schurman and Alida Withoos.

The Netherlands experienced unprecedented economic growth from the late 16th century through the first quarter of the 18th century. A rising middle class of wealthy merchants fueled demand for paintings and prints of still-lifes, portraits and scenes of everyday life. By some estimates, there was one painter for every 2,000–3,000 inhabitants, a ratio exceeding that of Italy during the same period. While this era has been widely documented and studied, the many women artists who were part of this thriving scene are rarely included in museum exhibitions.

“NMWA’s Women Artists of the Dutch Golden Age—which focuses on women as creators and entrepreneurs rather than primarily the subjects of well-known paintings—is a crucial turning point in righting art historical records,” said NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling. “NMWA is committed to presenting exhibitions that challenge traditional views, expand our thinking about art history and rectify omissions of the past.”

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National Museum of Women in the Arts