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I would like to share the work of a Dutch artist who I deeply admire to celebrate International Women’s Day of 2020.
Rachel Ruysch was a Dutch painter who lived from 1664 – 1750 and was one of three famous Dutch Golden Age women painters. As you may know, I spent the end of my high school living in Delft, Holland – the home of Vermeer – with my father. While there, I experienced the fantastic light that would filter into the cafes in the afternoon and evenings – that beautiful light which is often seen in a Dutch painting. Those memories stayed with me and found a way into my art today.
Rachel grew up in the 17th-century and was a member of an elite artistic family. Working with her father from a young age, she studied anatomy, insects, and plants, so from a young age she learned much about her future subjects. She also trained with the Willem van Aelst, a famed still life painter and became immensely popular. She was so revered that she only had to work on a few paintings a year to earn a good living. In the 17th century, the Dutch were very interested in flowers and gardening, so paintings that highlighted the beauty of nature were highly valued. This helped to build and maintain Ruysch’s customer base throughout her career.
In her lifetime, Ruysch’s paintings sold for as high as 1200 Dutch guilders. In comparison, Rembrandt rarely received more than 500 guilders for a painting in his lifetime. It is said that Ruysch’s paintings sold for more than Rembrandt’s when you compare their lifetime work. Interestingly, a painting by Ruysch was discovered in a farmhouse in Normandy in 1999 and was sold at auction for about $508,000.
Ruysch became the first female member of an artist’s society in The Hague in 1701, and later became a court painter for a number of years in Dusseldorf. After winning the lottery in 1722, she no longer had a need for money, but continued painting into her 80s and was a prolific painter of her time. When she died in 1750, eleven poets paid her their respects with poems about her. If you would like to view a 5 minute video about Rachel, you can see it here: National Gallery on Rachel Ruysch
My Painting Endeavors
In my last post, I shared with you that my husband John and I are building a house. We are currently designing the garden (with Camelias, Azaleas, Lariope and Hydrangeas) and I hope to continue painting floral arrangements and studying more from Ruysch and her technique. I am also collecting various vases to include in my floral paintings, so stay tuned to the next few years. Florals are in the painting queue!
For International Women’s Day, I will share one of my works with you I did a couple of years ago from my garden. My husband John picked it for me and it was so beautiful to paint especially when he told me that it was the internationally recognized flower of New Zealand which was the first country in the world to allow women the right to vote. September 19th of each year is celebrated as White Camellia Day or New Zealand Suffrage Day, the first name after the emblem of the New Zealand suffrage movement: the white camellia. This I share with you.
Camelia from John
5 x 7
Oil on Panel