The Currier Museum of Art acquires a long-lost painting by Judith Leyster, a pioneering Dutch woman artist.
Judith Leyster was the first woman to be admitted to a professional artistic guild. She was also one of the most expressive and innovative painters of the 17th century.
Leyster mastered an original style to capture scenes of everyday life. Her quick brushwork perfectly suits figures which appear in motion. In this painting, the boy’s tilted head and open mouth seem spontaneous. Moreover, the subject of a laughing boy holding a bunch of grapes and a hat is a unique subject in art history, which suggests that it was a scene the artist saw.
An exceptionally rare artist
Fewer than twenty works can be securely attributed to Judith Leyster. During the Renaissance and Baroque eras, women were denied the same opportunities allowed men. Along with the Italian painter Artemisia Gentilleschi and the Dutch still-life artist Rachel Ruysch, Judith Leyster was one of a handful of women to break the gender restrictions of her time. Leyster was highly praised in the official histories of the Dutch city of Haarlem.
An artist couple reunited at the Currier Museum of Art
A few years after Boy Holding Grapes and a Hat was completed, Judith Leyster married the Dutch painter Jan Miense Molenaer. The Currier Museum already owns a painting by Molenaer, Card Players at an Inn, providing an ideal context for the Leyster work.
Boy Holding Grapes and Hat is now on view in the European Gallery, part of the Currier’s permanent collection.