Sunday, August 30, 2015

1600s Woman Artist - Elisabetta Sirani 1638-1665 including Judith & Holofernes


Italian artist Elisabetta Sirani (1638–1665) died when she was 27. By that age, she had already created 200 paintings, drawings, & etchings.

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) Judith with the Head of Holofernes, 1658

Sirani spent her short life in Bologna, a city famous for its progressive attitude toward women's rights & female artists.

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) Judith with the Head of Holofernes

She was the daughter of artist Giovanni Andrea Sirani (1610-70), who had been Guido Reni's principal assistant.

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) Judith with the Head of Holofernes

Encouraged by Carlo Malvasia, her mentor & eventual biographer, she was painting professionally by the age of 17.  Trained by her father, Sirani ran her family's art workshop by the age of 19, supporting her parents, 3 siblings, & herself. Her father could paint no longer because of gout.

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) Melpomene

Sirani's portraits, mythological subjects, & biblical images gained widespread fame. Her works were acquired by wealthy, noble, & even royal patrons, including the Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici.  She painted so fast, that it was commonly believed that she had help painting. In order to refute the charges, dignitaries from all over Europe were invited to watch her paint a portrait in one sitting.  One story about the Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici, who visited her studio in 1664, attests to Sirani's rapid working methods. After he watched her work on a portrait of his uncle Prince Leopold, Cosimo ordered a Madonna for himself, which Sirani allegedly executed so quickly so that it could dry enough to be taken home with him!

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) Personification Of Music

Sirani died-suddenly, after experiencing severe stomach pains probably caused by perforated ulcers. Sirani's funeral was an elaborate affair involving formal orations, special poetry & music, and an enormous catafalque decorated with a life-size sculpture of the deceased.

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) Portrait of Beatrice Cenci 1662

Her teaching legacy included her two sisters, Barbara & Anna Maria, plus more than a dozen other young women who became professional painters in Bologna.

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) The Flea



1600s Woman Artist - Self-Portraits - Elisabetta Sirani 1638-1665


Italian artist Elisabetta Sirani (1638–1665) died when she was 27. By that age, she had already created 200 paintings, drawings, & etchings. Sirani spent her short life in Bologna, a city famous for its progressive attitude toward women's rights & female artists. She was the daughter of artist Giovanni Andrea Sirani (1610-70), who had been Guido Reni's principal assistant. Encouraged by Carlo Malvasia, her mentor & eventual biographer, she was painting professionally by the age of 17.

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) Allegoria della pittura 1638-1665

Trained by her father, Sirani ran her family's art workshop by the age of 19, supporting her parents, 3 siblings, & herself. Her father could paint no longer because of gout. Sirani's portraits, mythological subjects, & biblical images gained widespread fame. Her works were acquired by wealthy, noble, & even royal patrons, including the Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici.

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) Self-Portrait, 1658

She painted so fast, that it was commonly believed that she had help painting. In order to refute the charges, dignitaries from all over Europe were invited to watch her paint a portrait in one sitting.

Elisabetta Sirani (1638-1665) Self-Portrait 1660

One story about the Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici, who visited her studio in 1664, attests to Sirani's rapid working methods. After he watched her work on a portrait of his uncle Prince Leopold, Cosimo ordered a Madonna for himself, which Sirani allegedly executed so quickly so that it could dry enough to be taken home with him! Sirani died-suddenly, after experiencing severe stomach pains probably caused by perforated ulcers. Sirani's funeral was an elaborate affair involving formal orations, special poetry & music, and an enormous catafalque decorated with a life-size sculpture of the deceased. Her teaching legacy included her two sisters, Barbara & Anna Maria, plus more than a dozen other young women who became professional painters in Bologna.


1600s Woman Artist - Maria Sibylla Merian (German Natural History artist, 1647-1717)



Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) Branch of guava tree with leafcutter ants, army ants, pink-toed tarantulas, c. 1701-5

German artist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717) & her daughters Johanna Helena & Dorothea Maria raised the artistic standards of natural history illustration & helped transform the field of entomology, the study of insects.  From about 1450, European artists began to record the details of insects, animals, flowers, & plants. Maria Sibylla Merian was born in Frankfurt, Germany, into a family of publishers & artists. Her father, Matthäus Merian the Elder, published some of the most influential natural history texts of the 1600s.  Merian's stepfather, artist & teacher Jakob Marrel introduced his young daughter Merian to the art of miniature flower painting against her mother's will. Merian learned how to draw, mix paints, paint in watercolor, & create prints alongside her stepfather's traditional male pupils.


Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) Passion flower plant and flat-legged bug, c. 1701-5

Merian married her stepfather's favorite pupil, Johann Andreas Graff (German, 1636–1701), at the age of 18. In 1670, 5 years after her marriage to the painter Johann Andreas Graff, the family moved to Nuremberg, where Merian published her first illustrated books.  There, while having 2 daughters of her own, she also instructed her girls & the daughters of neighbors in embroidery & painting.  By 1686, Merian left her husband moving with her 2 daughters & elderly, widowed mother to a religious community in the Dutch province of West Friesland. When this religious community collapsed in 1691, Merian & her daughters moved to Amsterdam, the center of world trade & 3rd largest city in Europe. Johanna Helena & Dorothea Maria learned their mother's art. The 3 women set up a studio together, painting plants, birds, & insects.


Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) Vine branch and black grapes, with moth, caterpillar and chrysalis of gaudy sphinx, 1701-5

Merian's artistic and scientific interests outgrew Amsterdam's supply of exotic plants & animals. In 1699, the city of Amsterdam helped sponsor the 52-year-old Merian's travel to Surinam along with her younger daughter, Dorothea Maria, age 21. Before departing, she wrote:

"In Holland, I noted with much astonishment what beautiful animals came from the East and West Indies. I was blessed with having been able to look at both the expensive collection of Doctor Nicolaas Witsen, mayor of Amsterdam and director of the East Indies society, and that of Mr. Jonas Witsen, secretary of Amsterdam. Moreover I also saw the collections of Mr. Fredericus Ruysch, doctor of medicine and professor of anatomy and botany, Mr. Livinus Vincent, and many other people. In these collections I had found innumerable other insects, but finally if here their origin and their reproduction is unknown, it begs the question as to how they transform, starting from caterpillars and chrysalises and so on. All this has, at the same time, led me to undertake a long dreamed of journey to Suriname."


Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) Surinam Caiman Fighting a South American False Coral Snake 1699-1703 from The Insects of Suriname, 1719

Maria Sibylla Merian died in 1717. Near the time of her death, her watercolors were purchased for Czar Peter the Great of Russia. Shortly thereafter, Dorothea published a 3rd volume of her mother's The Caterpillar Book with 50 more of her mother's observations with an appendix on insects observed by Johanna Helena, who had moved to Suriname in 1711.  Around 1718, Dorothea moved to Saint Petersburg, where she continued to work as an artist.  Dorothea sold the plates of The Insects of Suriname to a Dutch publisher, who reissued the book in 1719 with 12 additional plates. Thanks to her daughters' continued diligence, Merian left a lasting mark on entomology. The images in this posting are attributed to Merian & perhaps to her daughters.


Unknown artist, Portrait of Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717)



Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) Wooly-haired Megalopygio Caterpiller





Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) Iguana and Coral Snake



Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium 1705



Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) Lizard



Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) Metamorphosis of the Insects - Grapefruit



 Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) Botanical



Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) Botanical



Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) Plum Tree with Blue Moth 1705



Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) Lizard and Banana



Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) From Transformations of the insects of Surinam 1705



Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) From Transformations of the insects of Surinam 1705



Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) Metamorphosis of the Insects



Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium 1705



Maria Sibylla Merian (German artist, 1647-1717) Botanical



1600s Woman Artist - Mary Beale 1632-1697


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Self Portrait Holding a Painting of Her Sons c 1685


Mary Beale (1632-1697) was the first English woman to become a professional portraitist of the Baroque era. She was the daughter of John Cradock, a puritan rector from Suffolk, who was an amateur painter & member of the Painter Stainer’s company. Through her father she became acquainted with local artists, such as Matthew Snelling, Robert Walker, & Peter Lely. As an independent professional artist she had a prolific career.


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Self Portrait

Her father also introduced her to her future husband, who was also an amateur painter & member of the Painter-Stainers' Company, a cloth merchant from London named Charles Beale. In 1652, at 18, she married Charles Beale & went to live with him in Covent Garden, London. The Beales had 2 sons who survived past childhood, Bartholomew & Charles. Her husband, Charles became deputy clerk of the patents office in about 1660, by which time Mary had begun to study portraiture. In 1664, the Beales moved away from London, to a farmhouse in Allbrook in Hampshire. Part of their reason for moving could have been to escpae the onset of the Great Plague in London which was to kill a fifth of the population of the town.

Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Self Portrait c 1675

Her husband left a career in the Patents Office to prepare her canvases, mix her paints, & keep the family business records. In 1670, the family, returned to London, where she set up a studio in Pall Mall. One diary note kept by her husband establishes that in 1 year alone she completed 83 commissioned works. One of Mary & Charles Beale's sons, also known as Charles Beale went on to a career as a painter. Mary Beale also taught art, & one of her students, Sarah Cuties eventually became a well-known painter. Beale worked in several media including oils, pastels & water colors. Her studies of children, especially her own, were particularly sensitive.


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Portrait of the artist's husband Charles Beale in a Black Hat


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) The Artist's Husband Charles


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Self Portrait of the Artist as a Shepherdess with her Son Charles (1660-1714) in Attendance


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697)


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) The Artist with her Husband Charles & Son Bartholomew


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Portrait of the Artist's Son Bartholomew Beale c 1665


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Artist's Son Bartholomew Beale



Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Bartholomew Beale Profile


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Bartholomew Beale, Facing Left


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Charles Beale Jr


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Portrait of a Young Woman


Attributed to Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Portrait of Nell Gwyl


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Louise de Kérouaille Duchess of Portsmouth, 1670s A French aristocrat who became a spy for Louis XIV & mistress to Charles II.


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) King Charles II (1630 - 1685) c 1675c


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Actress Moll Davis


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Lady Elizabeth Cavendish (c 1627–1663), Countess of Bridgewater or Lady Elizabeth Cranfield, (1648–1670) Viscountess Brackley c 1670


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) 1675 Lady Mary Hay, née Maitland (1645–1702), Marchioness of Tweedale


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Lady Leake (1657-1709)


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Unknown Young Boy


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Portrait of a Baby


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Richard Gulston


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Portrait of a Young Girl c 1681


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Sir Basil Dixwell


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Portrait of a Young Girl


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Unknown Young Boy


Mary Beale (English portrait painter, 1632-1697) Young Bacchus