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Rachel Ruysch

Dutch, 1664-1750

Rachel Ruysch was a phenomenon in her day. A woman who displayed so much talent and skill was considered a wonder. Although more women were active as artists in the Dutch Golden Age than is generally assumed, they were undeniably in the minority and often condescendingly regarded as exceptions to the rule. Her grandfather, Pieter Post was the architect who oversaw the building of the Mauritshuis. Her father, Frederik Ruysch, an eminent botanist. From him, she learned how to observe and record nature with great accuracy.

She began to study under Willem van Aelst, the well-known Dutch flower painter, at the age of fifteen. Ruysch later became the first female member of The Hague artists' society. Ruysch served as court painter to Johann Wilhelm, the Elector Palatine of Bavaria. She remained there from 1708 until the prince's death in 1716. After returning to Holland, she remained artistically active, painting until she was 83.