|Judith Leyster "Self-Portrait" ca. 1630 National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC)|
As a child who was frequently taken to art museums I recall hearing there was some controversy about this work, and a large old book (with slightly blurry tipped-in plates) that resided on my parent's bookshelf, did indeed attribute this piece to Hals. (I am 49. The book was probably a few decades older.) At any rate, sometime in the last half century Leyster's existence was re-discovered, her oeuvre re-examined, and her reputation re-established. Golden indeed!
So, just thinking, many of the artists profiled here on WAP had children, and many of them had MANY children (see Lavinia Fontana who had 11, for instance.) Contrary to the common mythos, in the vast majority of cases we don't hear that having children brought these women's careers to an end. Far from it. However, in the case of Judith Leyster that does seem to have been the case. Once she married and had children (five) she stopped producing known work, although some historians have posited that she then assisted her lesser-known artist-husband with his work. I wonder if she just became submerged by a cascade of major life events (childcare, moving, lawsuits, sickness, etc.) from which she did not have a chance to break free before she died, at the relatively young age of fifty. I will have to read a more detailed biography and see what her biographers say...