Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Mysterious Michaelina

Michaelina Wautier "Self Portrait with Easel" oil on linen 1649 private collection
To be honest I'd never heard of this artist before last night! I was scrolling through some paintings online, when this beautiful image caught my eye:

Michaelina Wautier, "Saint Agnes and Saint Dorothea" oil on linen 17thC Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp
I thought it was a particularly fetching Rubens, and clicked to learn more. To my surprise it was credited to Michaelina Wautiers instead, an artist I had never heard of before. Intrigued, I did some quick research and feel compelled to share what I could dig up.

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!


Unknown said...

Hi Nancy, in your list I can not find others italian painters like Plautilla Nelli (maybe the first in the history) and Maria Maddalena Baldacci from Florence. And an important italian artist like Properzia de Rossi a sculptor.

Nancy Bea Miller said...

Hi Luca Ba! I am slowly working my way through an enormous backload of images for women in the act of painting. What I need to put an artist in the queue is a fine art image (non-photography) of the artist in the act of making art. I allow the presence of their art tools nearby them, such as a painting of an artist with her palette nearby, or in her studio with paintings stacked behind her. Many wonderful artists have no such records, which means I can't include them in this project. But I am always looking, and always happy to get new suggestions. Thanks for your interest!