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Portrait of Rachel Ruysch by Godfried Schalcken

Rachel Ruysch (The Hague, 3 June 1664 – Amsterdam, 12 August 1750) was a still life painter from the Northern Netherlands who specialized in flowers. She invented her own style and achieved international fame in her lifetime, being followed by Jan van Huysum who took flower painting to another degree of popularity. Due to her long and successful career that spanned over 6 decades, she became the best documented woman painter of the Dutch Golden Age.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Portraits of Juriaan Pool and his wife Rachel Pool, born Ruisch

Rachel Ruysch was born in The Hague to the scientist Frederik Ruysch and Maria Post, the daughter of the architect Pieter Post. Her father was a professor of anatomy and botany,[1] and an amateur painter.[2] He had a vast collection of animal skeletons, and mineral and botany samples which Rachel used to practice her drawing skills.[3] At a young age she began to paint the flowers and insects of her father's collection in the popular manner of Otto Marseus van Schrieck. She knew him and his disciples from his work for the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, where her father did business.[4] Rachel would also have known and consorted with the flower painters Jan and Maria Moninckx, Alida Withoos and Johanna Helena Herolt-Graff, who all were about her age and who worked for the hortus owner Agnes Block and who, like her father, also worked with the plant collectors Jan and Caspar Commelin. In 1679, at age fifteen, Ruysch was apprenticed to Willem van Aelst, a prominent flower painter in Amsterdam. His studio in Amsterdam looked out over the studio of the flower painter Maria van Oosterwijck. Ruysch studied with van Aelst until his death in 1683.[2] Besides painting technique he taught her how to arrange a bouquet in a vase so it would look spontaneous and less formalized. This technique produced a more realistic and three-dimensional affect in her paintings. By the time Ruysch was eighteen she was producing and selling independently signed works.[5]

In 1693 she married the Amsterdam portrait painter Juriaen Pool, with whom she had ten children. Throughout her marriage and adult life she continued to paint and produce commissions for an international circle of patrons.[5]

Works[edit]

Roses, Convolvulus, Poppies, and Other Flowers in an Urn on a Stone Ledge

It is unknown whether Ruysch was a member of the Amsterdam Guild of St. Luke, but early signed works by her in the 1680s show the influence of Otto Marseus van Schrieck. By 1699 Rachel and her family had moved to The Hague, where she was offered membership in the Confrerie Pictura in The Hague as their first female member.[6] In 1701 she and her husband both became members of The Hauge Painter's Guild. Several years later, in 1708, Ruysch was invited to work for the court in Düsseldorf and serve as court painter to Johann Wilhelm, Elector Palatine.[6] She obtained a contract for works painted at home that she periodically brought to Düsseldorf.[6] She remained working for him and his wife from 1708 until the prince's death in 1716.

Art historians consider Ruysch to be one of the most talented still life artists among both men and women.[7] By her death at age 86 she had produced hundreds of paintings, of which more than 250 have been documented or are currently attributed to her.[5] Her dated works establish that she painted from the age of 15 until a few years before her death.

Style[edit]

Ruysch had a strong understanding of drawing and the techniques of earlier traditions. This knowledge improved her painting abilities.[2] She paid extensive attention to all details in her work. Every petal was created painstakingly with delicate brushwork. [8] The background of her paintings are usually dark which was the fashion for flower painting in the second half of the 17th century. Her asymmetrical compositions with drooping flowers and wild stems created paintings that seemed to possess a great energy about them.[5]

Ruysch had painted a number of forest floor pictures which feature small animals, reptiles, butterflies, and fungi in her early work. She later adopted flower painting as her main concern and continued to paint until her death, thus continuing the 17th-century style right down to the middle of the following century.[9]

Ruysch’s skill lay in the minute observation of each flower in a totally realistic way which is then composed into an elaborate arrangement which would be very difficult to achieve in nature, as the flowers would not support each other so well under such an arrangement. In common with most flower pieces from the last third of the 17th century, the colors of the flowers are much more carefully balanced than in the earlier pictures.[10]

The symbolism of each flower was elaborately developed in the 17th century, but most of this concerned the introduction of a single flower into a Vanitas piece. Apart from Jan van Huysum, no 18th century flower painter matched the skill of Rachel Ruysch.[11]

Reception[edit]

Ruysch enjoyed great fame and reputation in her lifetime. When she died in 1750, eleven poets paid her their respects with poems about her.[1] 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 clientele throughout her career.[5] In her lifetime her paintings were sold for very high prices of up to 750-1200 guilders. In comparison, Rembrandt rarely received more than 500 guilders for a painting in his lifetime.[12]

In 1999 a painting by Ruysch was discovered in a farmhouse, and was sold at auction in Normandy for 2.9 million French francs, about US$508,000.[5]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c keyes, George S. (2004). Masters of Dutch Painting (1st ed.). Detroit: Detroit Institute of Arts. pp. 212–214. 
  2. ^ a b c Mitchell, Peter. "Ruysch, Rachel". oxfordartonline.com. Grove Art Online. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Chadwick, Whitney (1990). Women, Art, and Society (1st ed.). New York, NY: Thames and Hudson. p. 138. 
  4. ^ Alida Withoos and the Moninckx-atlases of the Amsterdam Hortus
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Rachel Ruysch". Encyclopedia.com. Encyclopedia of World Biography. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c Rachel Ruysch in historici.nl
  7. ^ http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T074728?q=rachel+ruysch&search=quick&pos=1&_start=1#firsthit
  8. ^ Renraw, R. "Art of Rachel Ruysch". EBSCOhost. Art Index Retrospective. 
  9. ^ James, St. (1990). International dictionary of Art and Artists. St. James. ISBN 1-55862-001-X. 
  10. ^ James, St. (1990). International dictionary of Art and Artists. St. James. ISBN 1-55862-001-X. 
  11. ^ James, St. (1990). International dictionary of Art and Artists. St. James. ISBN 1-55862-001-X. 
  12. ^ Tufts, Eleanor (1974). Our Hidden Heritage: Five Centuries Of Women Artists (1st ed.). New York: Paddington Press. pp. 99–101. 

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Ruysch — Please support Wikipedia.
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86 news items

 
Huffington Post
Sun, 31 Jul 2011 19:21:23 -0700

A prominent female Dutch Golden Age painter, Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750) specialized in still lifes. She was the daughter of Frederik Ruysch, a professor of anatomy and botany and an amateur painter. At age 15, she was apprenticed to painter Willem van ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Fri, 30 Jan 2015 06:26:35 -0800

A show about youth subcultures takes over the Photographers' Gallery's new space, while Christian Marclay's inebriated action paintings hit London. Plus, the gif art you can see from space, and how much sponsorship money BP paid Tate – all in your ...

Badische Zeitung

Badische Zeitung
Sun, 08 Feb 2015 13:00:00 -0800

So erfuhr man von der niederländischen Stilllebenmalerin Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750) aus Amsterdam, die als Hofmalerin des Kurfürsten von der Pfalz wirkte. Ruyschs Blumenmotive waren sehr begehrt, ihre Bilder waren besser bezahlt als die von ...

Roanoke Times (blog)

Roanoke Times (blog)
Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:03:45 -0800

Aspiring artists who have doodled with a ballpoint pen during class should visit Roanoke artist Gerry Bannan's show at the Taubman Museum of Art. They will either find a wealth of inspiration or concede defeat and put that pen down for good.

Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald
Fri, 12 Dec 2014 04:45:00 -0800

One of its first experiments is a still life by 18th century Dutch artist Rachel Ruysch that, with the help of Spacecraft, has transformed a detail into apparel and, of all things, skateboards. While purists can argue whether the aura of the original ...

ArtSlant

ArtSlant
Wed, 21 Jan 2015 02:18:11 -0800

I went to a lecture the other day at the Royal College of Art, which although about art as resistance, mostly addressed its opposite, a phrase I have heard more and more lately in relation to the art world and art education: "the manufacture of ...

Roanoke Times (blog)

Roanoke Times (blog)
Tue, 28 Oct 2014 08:33:45 -0700

Inspired stylistically by still life 17th century Dutch masters Pieter Claesz and Rachel Ruysch, as well as 16th century German master engraver Albrecht Dürer, Bannan's drawings are fresh, contemporary twists on the age old theme that serves as a ...
 
Hyperallergic
Fri, 27 Jun 2014 06:03:07 -0700

Monet and Renoir drenched their canvases in colors that until that point had been prohibitively expensive for most artists, yet during their lifetimes became available synthetically in mass production. The organic and mineral colors used in the ...
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