Van Gogh •
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Judith Leyster, one of the very few women painters
in a century predominantly interested in men, was born in Haarlem.
Before 1628, she lived near Utrecht, where she came under the influence of Terbrugghen, a painter of religious pictures and
one of the most important Dutch followers of Caravaggio.
Undoubtedly her dramatic lighting was learned at this time. In 1628, Leyster began to be known as a painter, and in 1633 she
became a member of the Haarlem Guild. At some time during this period she became a pupil
of Frans Hals, and it is also probable that she met her husband Jan Miense
Molenaer in Hals' studio, for Molenaer, like his better-known wife, painted
in the manner of Hals.
Judith Leyster's style closely resembled that of Hals, and her choice of
subjects was so similar to his that many of her works, although signed with her maiden name (a most unexpected practice for
the seventeenth century), were at first attributed to Hals. She painted genre
portraits of entertainers and tavern habitués in a quite masculine style
reminiscent of Hals' early work-bright in color, brightly lit, with deep
shadows, and well delineated forms. A teacher of other artists, Judith Leyster was highly esteemed by her contemporaries
and enjoyed a successful career.