Rachel Ruys is considered one of the greatest female artists of the Dutch Golden Age and one of the truly great still-life artists of any age or gender.
She was born in The Hague in 1664. Ruysch became an apprentice at the age fifteen to Willem van Aelst, an artist known for his flower paintings, just like Rachel would be. By age eighteen, she was already selling signed paintings, starting a significant, prosperous and long-lived career.
Ruysch’s careful arrangements created a sense of movement and vibrancy. Rose Branch with Beetle and Bee is a relatively later work of Ruysch’s, showing her skill not only at painting the flowers and insects in such fine detail, but also breaking away from traditional flower arrangements and using new arrangements to draw in the viewer.
Although interest in still-life paintings would eventually wane, during her lifetime, they were in high demand, as was she. Despite having ten children she remained a prolific artist throughout her life, painting until she was 83, just a few years before her death in 1750.
Rachel Ruysch enjoyed incredible fame and respect during her lifetime. Her paintings regularly sold for much more than Rembrandt’s did in his lifetime. Although she may not be as famous now, she is still considered one of the greatest still life artists of all time and her paintings are on display in numerous museums around the world.
For more detailed coverage of Rachel Ruysch and an analysis of Rose Branch with Beetle and Bee, read Issue 41 of DUTCH the magazine!
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