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"Portrait of Maria van Oosterwych", Wallerant Vaillant, 1671

Maria van Oosterwyck

How did Oosterwyck most break the mold? From early childhood, she enjoyed family connections with artists and art world, although she did not follow the traditional pattern seen with most women artists in history who either had a father, uncle or husband who worked as an artist. (Ruysch’s father was a famous botanist, for example and Leyster’s husband was an artist). This connection often proved necessary given that women were generally not permitted to study in art schools or work in artists’ studios as independent artists. Kept out of artistic institutions, only familial access opened side doors which allowed women to cross the threshold of the art world. Another extraordinary aspect of Oosterwyck’s life is the freedom with which she travelled and worked in different Dutch cities. She moved from her village to Delft, with its thriving artist community, to train in Leiden, a center of still-life painting, and then on to Utrecht where from 1660-65 she apprenticed in the studio of Jan David de Heem (1660-1684), considered one of the foremost painters in seventeenth-century Europe. Finally, Oosterwych would settle in Amsterdam in 1666 where she initially worked as an assistant in the studio of Willem van Aelst (1626-1687), future teacher of Rachel Ruysch. Later, she would establish her own studio across the street from van Aelst’s.

Restoring Oosterwych’s Fruit, Flowers and Insects

What should I know about this painting?

Oosterwich and Florence

What is Oosterwich’s connection to Florence?

Oosterwyck and her success

A lady of fame and… fortune?


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