Judith Leyster

1609–1660

Judith Leyster, an independent artist with her own workshop and pupils, had a talent for painting lively scenes of people enjoying themselves in taverns or playing music.

Leyster produced most of her paintings between approximately 1629 and 1635; her artistic output decreased dramatically after her marriage in 1636. In addition to raising her children, Leyster may have managed the family’s business and properties; she probably also assisted with her husband’s art. By 1649, the family returned from Amsterdam to Haarlem, where Leyster spent the remainder of her life.

Her work was clearly influenced by genre paintings created by noted Haarlem artist Frans Hals, which led to attribution errors. Although well known during her lifetime, Leyster and her work were largely forgotten after her death until 1893, when a painting acquired by the Louvre was found to have Leyster’s distinctive monogram (her initials entwined with a five-pointed star) hidden under a false signature reading “Frans Hals.” This discovery led to renewed research and appreciation of Leyster's oeuvre, which had previously been confused with that of Hals.