A ‘snapshot’ of Oosterwych’s still life at Palazzo Pitti

Oosterwyck and her success

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A lady of fame and… fortune? Seventeenth-century Dutch painter Maria van Oosterwyck (1630-93) was hugely successful during her lifetime, garnering commissions from royal patrons such as France’s Louis XIV, Leopold the Holy Roman Emperor of Austria and England’s William III. She gained increased international recognition when Cosimo III—who would later become Tuscany’s longest-serving ruler, traveled to Amsterdam in 1667 and judged her paintings equal to those of her teacher, Willem van Aelst. The Medici Dynasty had a long history in supporting women artists, and having their works present in the family’s collection was a source of prestige. In 2011, Sotheby’s sold an Oosterwyck still life for $1,426,500. Yet today’s art market does not reflect the success she achieved during her life. She, and other contemporary women artists working in Holland, such as Clara Peeters, and Rachel Ruysch, were incredibly famous and extraordinarily well paid in the seventeenth-century.