Self-Portrait (c. 1635) by Judith Leyster

Self-Portrait - Judith Leyster - c.1630

Artwork Information

ArtistJudith Leyster
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions29 3/8 x 25 5/8 in. (72.3 x 65.3 cm)
Art MovementBaroque
Current LocationNational Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

About Self-Portrait

The artwork “Self-Portrait” by Judith Leyster, created around 1630, is an exemplar of the Baroque period. This oil on canvas masterpiece measures approximately 29 3/8 by 25 5/8 inches (72.3 x 65.3 cm). It can be admired in person at the National Gallery of Art, located in Washington, D.C. In this self-portrait, Leyster presents herself within the artistic genre of self-portraiture, a genre that allows artists to depict themselves in a manner of their choosing.

The artwork portrays Judith Leyster with a self-assured gaze looking directly at the viewer. Clad in clothing contemporaneous with the early 17th century, Leyster features a wide, lace collar and a dark gown with intricate detailing and puffed shoulders, which exhibit her knowledge of the fashion of her time. In her hands, she holds a palette and brushes, indicating her profession and skill as a painter. The relaxed posture with which she holds her tools suggests confidence in her craft.

On the easel beside her, a painting of a jovial musician playing a stringed instrument is partially visible, introducing a narrative element and providing insight into the themes she may have enjoyed depicting. This inclusion of another painting within the artwork itself signifies a meta-artistic commentary, showcasing mastery not only in portrait but also in genre painting—a clever nod to her talents and versatility.

Leyster’s self-portrait is illuminated with a naturalistic treatment of light, capturing the delicate play of illumination on her face and attire, embodying the Baroque fascination with chiaroscuro and the dramatic effects of light and shadow. The detailed rendering of her facial features and the candid yet elegant pose contribute to the depiction of a confident woman and a professional artist, making this painting an important cultural artifact that documents the role and self-perception of women in the Baroque era.

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