Advertisement

‘Et Ses Artistes Mains…’

The art of Anna Maria van Schurman
  • Katlijne Van Der Stighelen
Part of the Archives Internationales D’Histoire Des Idées / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 146)

Abstract

Throughout history, women who engage in art have been regarded as exceptional. In his Historia Naturalis (c. AD 70) Pliny the Elder listed five female artists, devoting particular attention to the painter Iaia of Cyzicus.2 He wrote that she had used a mirror to paint a self-portrait and that she could afford to charge the same considerable prices for her work as did her male counterparts. In De Claris Mulieribus (c. 1370) the Italian poet Boccaccio refers to three women artists — Thamyris, the daughter of the painter Micon, Irene, also an artist’s daughter, and Marcia, daughter of the Roman scholar Varro. Marcia was particularly praised for the figures she carved in ivory and, according to Boccaccio, she also painted a portrait of herself using a mirror.3

Keywords

Artistic Work Young Lady Professional Artist Artistic Pursuit Woman Artist 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    ‘Ziet mijn wesen op dit tafereel gemaalt; Uw gunst voltooi het werk, indien er kunst aan faalt’. The Latin caption reads: ‘Cernitis hic picta nostros in imagine vultus: Si negat ars formam, gratia vestra dabit’. Cf. plate 7 and note 45.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Plinius Maior, Historia Naturalis. English translation Natural History (1968) p. 368, v. 147–148: ‘(…) Iaia Cyzicena, perpetua virgo, M. Varronis iuventa Romae et penicillo pinxit et cestro in ebore imagines mulierum maxime et Neapoli anum in grandi tabula, suam quoque imaginem ad speculum’.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Harris and Nochlin, Women Artists (1978) p. 19; Van der Stighelen, Anna Maria van Schurman (1987) p. 54. This monograph gives a detailed overview of all the techniques that Van Schurman used and a ‘catalogue raisonné’ of her known oeuvre. For the position of the woman artist see also, among others, Nabakowski, Sander and Gorsen (ed.), Frauen in der Kunst (1980), Parker and Pollock, Old Mistresses (1981) and Parker, The Subversive Stitch (1984).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Harris and Nochlin, Women Artists (1978) passim; Werkmåster, ‘Avbild-själv’ (1991) pp. 71–99. See note 29 for Van Schurman’sGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    See Van Mander, Den grondt (1973) pp. 345–346, 435–436. The painter and art theoretician Karel van Mander (1548–1606) makes an essential distinction between painting portraits and painting ‘histories’, dismissing the former as ‘a side-road in the arts’.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    ’In plaets van met de naeld’ te volghen haeren naedt, Te vouwen eenen doeck, oft spinnen eenen draet, Stets oeffenen t’verstandt in Mannelijcke wercken, En daeghelijckx de Kunst sijn besich aen te mercken. (…) Daer [’de seer edele Schilder-const’, KVdS] Anna Schuermans med’ verkeert en tracht te weten, De diep verholentheyt van haer Pinseels secreten. Dan sy ghenucht en lust, en vreught en smaeck in schept, Waer door sy t’minnen mall uyt haere sinnen rept. Als faem ghenoch verbreydt, niet sonder vaste reden, Midts uyt haer vloyt de bron van alle wetentheden’. De Bie, Het gulden cabinet (1661) p. 557.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    For a discussion of the Dissertatio see the chapter by Caroline van Eck in this book.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Douma, Anna Maria van Schurman p. 51 and Opuscula (1648) p. 28: ‘Caetera, nempe mathematica (quo etiam refertur Musica) Poësis, etc. Pictura et similes quasi liberales artes egregii cujusdam ornamenti sive oblecta vicem obtineant.’ (‘Other things such as Mathematics (to which Music is also assigned), Poetry etc., Painting and the like they may maintain as liberal arts as if they were extraordinary ornaments or pastimes.’) Douma’ s translation of the term ‘Artes Liberales’ into Dutch as ‘schone kunsten’ — fine arts — is debatable. However, the way in which Van Schurman links Pictura’ with the term ‘arte’ by ‘et similes quasi’ leaves open the possibility that she meant effectively similar fine arts.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    This applies to all the types of miniature portraiture that she practised. It is also interesting to note that no religious or historical works by Van Schurman are known to exist. Her oeuvre can generally be defined as portraiture and, more specifically, the miniature genre. In terms of iconography this does not indicate much variety. Her artistic versatility was primarily technical in nature.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Portrait of a lady, Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, inv.no. 1379, panel, 73.7 x 58.5 cm. See Van der Stighelen, ‘Anna Maria van Schurman’ (1985) pp. 159–163; Böhm, ‘Carl Aldenhoven’ (1983) p. 334, plate 17.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    See Van der Puyl, Kort verhaal (1806) p. 14.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Lille, Bibliothèque Municipale (hereafter abbreviated as BM), Fds Mss. t. I (cote 690), f. 573, 575; t. IV (cote 694), f. 123–130. The first reference to this manuscript is found in Voisine’s ‘Un astre éclipsé’ (1972) pp. 501–531. ‘think it unlikely that, as Voisine suggests, this same manuscript was used by Isaac Bullart in his Académie des Sciences et des Arts, where not a single firm fact concerning her childhood has been taken from the manuscript. Bullart does quote some verses that also occur in the Lille manuscript and uses two prints that were used to illustrate the manuscript. However, both the poems and the portrait engravings were so widely circulated that there would appear to be very little justification to postulate causal relationships simply on the grounds of their presence.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    De la Rivière, BM, f. 123: ‘Les memoires qui me sont esté donné par Monsieur de Montigni de Glarges, gentilhomme hollandois fort accomply qui aisme les lettres et les sciences, et a une particuhere connaissance de nostre incomparable Schurmans’. (‘The memoires which were given to me by Monsieur de Montigni de Glarges, a highly accomplished gentleman of Holland with a love of letters and the sciences, who has a particular knowledge of our incomparable Schurmans’.) The friendship album of Cornelis de Glarges de Montigny contains the arms of the Van Schurman family with the motto ‘Le temps m’instruict’, a verse entitled ‘Sur le depart de Monsr. C. de Glarges’ and the name ‘F. Schurmans’.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    De la Rivière, BM, f. 130: ‘Elle l’eut peu esperé, ausj bien que cette illustre Princess de Boheme, avec laquelle elle [Van Schurman, KVdS] avoit eu si souvent des doctes et familiers entretiens. Et que Dieu a touché d’une salutaire conversion dont elle jouit heureusement dans un cloistre’. For Elizabeth of the Palatinate see Guhrauer, ‘Elisabeth’ (1850/51); Goslings-Lijsen, ‘Uit het leven’ (1936).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    De la Rivière, BM, f. 130: ‘Et pour conclusions attendant que la fin de sa vie donne subjet de luy dresser quelque memorable epitaphe (…)’. (‘And for conclusions wait until the end of her life to make her the subject of some memorable epitaph’.)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    See Nauwelaerts, ‘Opvoeding van meisjes’ (1975) pp. 130–137. See also More, Utopia (1974) p. 129.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    ‘Die ik acht en die ik minne Die ik hou voor mijn vriendinne’. See Roemers Visscher, Gedichten (1925) p. 28, no. 51.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    De la Rivière, BM, f. 126: ‘A huict ans elle fut mise par sa mere a la couture et autres exercices con- venables a des filles, mais parmy ce travail, elle s’addonna a couper dans le papier avec ses ciseaux toutes sortes de figures sj bien au naturel qu’on les admiroit Cela fut cause que son pere l’envoia demeurer avec Magdeleine de Pas fille unique d’un fameux graveur, et laquelle gravoit ausj parfaictement bien’.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    See for the well-known artist and miniaturist Joris Hoefnagel, among others, Wilberg VignauSchuurman, Die emblematischen Elemente im Werke Joris Hoefnagels [1969].Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ibid., f. 127: ‘L’an 1620 elle commenca de son propre mouvement a reprendre le crayon, pour copier quelques pieces d’excellens maistres, que son pere avoit dans ses sales, et ayant veu les ouvrages de certain Hoefnagel, qui estoit tres bon peintre en miniature, elle eut quelque inclination de l’jmiter et demanda qu’on luy fournit des couleurs. Son premier essay fut une rose de son jardin, qu’elle fit sur du velin, et qui fut fort estimée, pour l’avoir bien naifvement representée, et depuis s’exercant souvent en cet art, elle s’y rendit si parfaicte, qu’elle fit quantité de portraits au naturelle, entre autre le sien dans un miroir, celuy de sa mere, de son frere et divers de ses amijs’.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Buchelius, Res Pictoriae (1631) p. 84: ‘(…) vidi a Luca Cranach depictus duas feminas ad vivam fere magnitudinem non insute pictas, nudas omnino, quarum unam Justitiam, alteram Charitatem exprimere voluit; apud Schuermans’.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    See Van der Stighelen, Anna Maria van Schurman (1987) p. 250; cf. also the information in note 26, which shows that Frederik van Schurman maintained contacts with an artist such as Ambrosius Bosschaert.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Van der Stighelen, Anna Maria van Schurman (1987) pp. 117–119. On this print of the ‘Virginem Ultrajectinam sine manibus pictam’ (Caspar Barlaeus’s description), Van der Stighelen, ‘Constantijn Huygens’ (1987) pp. 138–148. A comparable method of engraving can be found in the following illustrations in Knappe, Dürer (1964) plates 27, 41, 43, 71, 104, 228.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    De la Rivière, BM, f. 129: ‘Elle a faict en cire celle de Martin Luther bien au naturel sur un portrait qu’on luy avoit envoije d’Allemagne (…)’.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Eucleria (1684/1978) p. 25.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    It has so far been impossible to dismiss any fact given by De la Rivière as untrue. He asserts, for example, that in about 1621 Frederik van Schurman spent some time in Rijswijk near The Hague, a statement that can be confirmed with the aid of a document relating to the flower painter Ambrosius Bosschaert. In 1621 the painter travelled to The Hague to deliver a ‘vase of flowers’ to ‘His Highness’ wine steward’. There he fell ill and died ‘in the house of Joncker Schuermans, the father of Anna Maria Schuermans’. See Bol, Ten Middelburgse Brueghel-groep’ (1955) pp. 106–107.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    See Van der Stighelen, Anna Maria van Schurman (1987) pp. 116–117, pl. 50; Franken, L’oeuvre gravé des van de Passe (1975) p. 318, no. 1397 (Amsterdam, Rijksprentenkabinet).Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Ibid., pp. xii-xiii. This was undoubtedly the etching of 1633, for the reference see note 12: ‘un échantillon de la main de Mademoiselle Anna Schurmans de son premier essay quelle a gravé en cuivre’.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    The Latin text reads: ‘Non animi fastus, nec formae gratia suasit, Vultus aeterno sculpere in aere meos: Sed, si forte rudis stilus hic meliora negaret, Tentarem prima ne potiora vice. A.M. a Schurma(n) sculp. et delin. Anno 1633’. (No pride or beauty prompted me to engrave my features in the unforgiving copper; but (it was) because, if my unpractised graver was not yet capable of producing good work, I would not risk a more weighty task the first time’).Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Van der Stighelen, Anna Maria van Schurman (1987) p. 117.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Eucleria (1684/1978) pp. 26–28.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Van der Stighelen, Anna Maria van Schurman (1987) pp. 153–158, plates 29–30.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    De Piles, Abrégé (1715) p. 407.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    See Van der Stighelen, ‘Constantijn Huygens’ (1987) p. 141.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Descartes, Oeuvres de Descartes III (1899) pp. 230–231, no. 214 (in a letter to Marin Mersenne dated 11–11–1640): ‘Ce Voetius a gasté aussi la Damoiselle de Schurmans, car au lieu qu’elle avoit l’ esprit excellent pour la poésie, la peinture et autres telles gentillesses, il y a desia cinq ou six ans qu’il la possède si entièrement, qu’elle ne s’occupe plus qu’aux controverses de la théologie, ce qui luy fait perdre la conversation de tous les honnestes gens’. For a critical examination of this statement by Descartes, see the chapter by Brita Rang in this book.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Van der Puyl, Kort verRäal (1806) p. 14.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Heringa and Pareau, Annales Academiae Rheno-Trajectinae (1826) pp. 119–120; Kernkamp, De Utrechtse universiteit (1936) p. 148.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Altogether, it is possible to list more than fifty small portraits by Van Schurman (some of which have survived while others have not). With the exception of the etchings and the portrait of a lady in Cologne ascribed to her (see note 10), they can all be classified as ‘miniatures’.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Van der Stighelen, Anna Maria van Schurman (1987) pp. 153–154.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Ibid. pp. 165–169; Drie eeuwen pastel (1934) p. 4.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Van der Stighelen, Anna Maria van Schurman (1987) pp. 194–239.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Ibid. pp. 177–193.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    De la Rivière, BM, f. 129: ‘Pour la sculpture, elle a faict quelques figures tres bonnes entr’autres son effigie propre en cire, sur laquelle elle fit ces vers: “Non mihi propositum est humanam eludere sortem, Aut vultus solido sculpere jn aere meos, haec nostra effigies, quam cerâ expressimus, ecce, Materiae fragili, mox peritura damus (…)”’. The English translation of this verse is based on the Dutch version in the Eucleria (1684/1978) p. 28: ‘Ik heb niet voor uit lust met ‘t menschlijk lot te spotten, Om op langdurig stof mijn beeltenis te slaan: Ziet daar ons beelt op was, die ‘k zelfs haast moet verrotten, Doe hier in breekb’re stof mijn bros schijn-leven staan.’Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Ibid., f. 129: ‘(…) et gravé quantité de gentillesse avec le diamant sur le verre, particulierement sur certains verres a boire vin de Rhin, qu’on appelle vulgairement en ce pays la Romers. Elle y adjousta mesme des vers latins, et puis en faisoit present a ceux de ses amys, qu’elle scavoit s’esgaier par fois a boire dans les bonnes compagnies. Nous en mettrons jcy trois: “Non ego Bacche tuâ sed Palladis arte placebo”, “Bacchia nil prosunt aliis, tibi vota nocebunt”, “Gaudes sepe novis revirescere Bacche racemus”. See also Van der Stighelen, ‘Anna Maria van Schurman’ (1985) pp. 513–523.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    De la Rivière, BM, f. 128–129: ‘Voila ce qui est de son education, de ses estudes, et de la production de son esprit, a quoy nous adjousterons, ce qu’elle a fait de plus remarquable avec la main dans les arts. Nous avons ja dict qu’elle avoit portraict en minature son pere, sa mere et plusieurs de ses amys, et mesme faict le sien dans un miroir. Elle le grava encore a l’eau forte et au burin en taille douce comme jl est jcy representé, et l’envoya a mesdames Saumaise, Coutel, et a la damoiselle du Moulin, ses jntimes amyes et y mit au dessoubz ces vers: “Cernitis hic pictâ nostros jn imagine vultus/Si negat ars formam, gratia vestra dabit”’. The inscription occurs on the engraved self-portrait of 1640, see Van der Stighelen, Anna Maria van Schurman (1987) pp. 119–121, 135, note 33.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katlijne Van Der Stighelen

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations