|Michaelina Wautier "Self Portrait with Easel" oil on linen 1649 private collection
|Michaelina Wautier, "Saint Agnes and Saint Dorothea" oil on linen 17thC Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp
Michaelina Wautier (sometimes her last name is spelled Woutiers) was an artist from what was then called the Southern Netherlands, an area now mainly in modern day Belgium and Luxembourg. Very little is known of her life but she was active in Brussels, 1617-1689, where she lived with her brother, the artist Charles Wautier, and another painter. She was supported by art patron Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria who acquired at least four of her works for his renowned art collection. Wautier painted with mastery in multiple genres, skillfully producing portraits and still-lives, as well as history and religious scenes. Her self-portrait (first image) was included in the ground-breaking Women Painters of the World, published in 1905, but it was erroneously attributed to the contemporary (but twenty years older) Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi. About thirty extant paintings are definitively attributed to Michaelina Wautier, who was well-known and respected during her lifetime, thus leading to a paper trail of documentation, diary mentions, sales receipts and notations about commissions etc.
Wautier will receive long overdue attention some time later this year when the first solo exhibition of her work will be held in June 2018 at the Rubens House, co-sponsored by MAS/Museum aan de Stroom, in Antwerp. Interestingly, there is an urgent International Art Search ongoing for six lost paintings by Wautier, whereabouts currently unknown, which the curator and museum are hoping to locate before this exhibit! Lots of excitement building about this talented and hitherto almost forgotten artist, Michaelina Wautier!