Rachel Ruysch. Lived 1664-1750
The best documented female painter of the early 18th century. Growing up in 17th-century Holland, Ruysch was part of a distinguished and artistic family, helping her father, a professional anatomist and botanist, with natural specimens for their private museum, where she learned to depict the flowers and plants from different places of the world. From the age of 15, Ruysch trained with an established still life painter. As a woman, she was restricted from studying the male nude, which was the main technique for her male counterparts to paint historical or biblical subjects, but her paintings stand out (almost literally) because of their three dimensionality, thanks to her early experience in her father’s museum. In 1701, she became the first female member of an artist’s society in The Hague, and from 1708 to 1716, she was court painter in Düsseldorf. We know that money later became no object for the family as in 1722, Ruysch and her husband won the lottery. She continued painting for passion, however, and was still creating works in her 80s.