Pairs of students will learn about a female artist, write a 500 to 750 word essay from a list of specified questions, find a representative work by the artist and if possible, a photograph of the artist. Students will also learn how to research the artist. Students will finally participate in creating a timeline of all the female artists, researched by the class. Each pair of students will introduce their artist to the class in a five-minute report.
Still Life with Flowers
Time Alloted2 1/2 Hours Class Time
State Content Standards
Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards
1.1 Identify and describe all the elements of art found in selected works of art (color, shape/form, line, texture, space, value).
1.2 Discuss works of art as to theme, genre, style, idea, and differences in media.
Historical and Cultural Context:
3.1 Research and discuss the role of the visual arts in selected periods of history, using a variety of resources (both print and electronic).
4.1 Construct and describe plausible interpretations of what they perceive in works of art.
English Language Content Standards
1.1 Read aloud narrative & expository text fluently and accurately and with appropriate pacing, intonation, and expression.
2.1 Identify the structural features of popular media and use the features to obtain information.
1.1 Choose the form of writing that best suits the intended purpose.
1.2 Create multiple-paragraph expository compositions.
1.4 Use organizational features of electronic text to locate information.
2.3 Write research reports.
Written and Oral English Language Conventions
1.1 Use simple, compound, and compound-complex sentences; use effective coordination and subordination of ideas to express complete thoughts.
1.4 Use correct capitalization.
Listening & Speaking:
1.4 Select a focus, an organizational structure, and a point of view, matching the purpose, message, occasion and vocal modulation to the audience.
1.5 Emphasize salient points to assist the listener in following the main ideas and concepts.
1.7 Use effective rate, volume, pitch, and tone and align nonverbal elements to sustain audience interest and attention.
2.2 Deliver informative presentation.
- Focus artwork, projected from the internet, or copies of.
- Paper and pencils for making notes
- Commentary on the focus artwork
- Index cards or pieces of paper on which are written the names of female artists
- Five foot piece of butcher paper for a written timeline
Maria van Oosterwyck was a floral still life painter in 17th century Holland. She was the first Dutch internationally recognized woman artist.
Still Life with Flowers is an example of the painting genres which flourished in 17th century Holland. Holland’s economic and social growth led to the formation of a wealthy middle class who wanted to see their everyday life, reflected in the artwork in their homes. They became the new art patrons and purchased landscapes, portraits, still life and genre (scenes of everyday life) paintings.
Maria van Oosterwyck painted this still life in Holland. By the 17th century Holland had become a major maritime power, a center of world commerce and the first Protestant state in Europe.
Holland had just won its freedom from the Spanish in 1648. The 17th century is considered the “Golden Age” of Dutch painting, when the genres of landscape, portrait, still life and genre (scenes of everyday life) flourished.
Why is this significant?
Maria van Oosterwyck was among the first successful female artists in the history of art who was NOT trained by a male relative. Most early female artists were denied access to artistic training and when they were able to train as an artist, they received their training from a male relative - a father, brother or uncle. Maria van Oosterwyck was quite successful and painted for powerful patrons, such as Louis XIV, William II of England and Leopold I, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire among others.
Make a connection:
Why are there not as many well known female artists as male artists from the past? First and most importantly, women were denied access to training – they were not able to travel freely to study art in other parts of the world; they were not taught mathematics or science; and they were not allowed to study from nude models. These restrictions continued well into the twentieth century. Discover a female artist and find out about her art and her life. Start your search either in the Crocker Art Museum or online at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, www.nmwa.org
Discovering a Female Artist
Focus Artwork: Still Life with Flowers
Artist: Maria van Oosterwyck
Date of Work: 17th Century
Media : Oil on canvas
• Teacher will either project the focus artwork or give copies to small groups of students. Students will look carefully and silently at the print and jot down any words or ideas that come to mind. Based on what they see in the artwork, students can also speculate on what they think the work might be “about.”
• Students in the small groups will be instructed to discuss with one another the following questions. One member of the group will act as a recorder, noting down the important ideas of the group.
• What do you see?
• What does it mean?
• Why do you think so?
• Teacher facilitates a discussion and charts important information from the small groups. Small groups report on their group discussions. After a couple of groups have presented their reports, then other groups can be called on to present “new information” only.
• Teacher distributes a copy of the commentary to each student. Each student will read the commentary. If there are readers in the classroom for whom the commentary is too difficult, then the teacher can do a “read around” or pair good readers with poor ones and they can read the commentary together. After reading the commentary, teacher can ask students what new and important information they have learned. Teacher charts this new information. At the end of the discussion teacher asks students to write a couple of paragraphs about the artist and the artwork which they feel is important to know. Student can share their writings.
• Teacher then asks students to relate the names of any female artists which they know. Teacher makes a list of the names. Teacher then asks students to relate the names of male artists. Students compare the lists and then discuss why they know the names of fewer female artists. Teacher facilitates this discussion and makes sure that the education available to female artists, their role in society as mothers, and their opportunity to be an artist in previous centuries is discussed.
• Teacher then asks students in the class to pair up with another student who will be a research buddy with them. Then she passes a box with the names of female artists written on folded pieces of paper and each pair of students draws out a name. Names can include but are not limited to the following:
Lavinia Fontana Judith Leyster
Rosalba Carriera Artemisia Gentileschi
Rosa Bonheur Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun
Mary Cassatt Berthe Morisot
Kathe Kollwitz Gabriele Munter
Hannah Hoch Diane Arbus
Sally Mann Dorothea Lange
Louise Nevelson Frida Kahlo
Elizabeth Catlett Beatrice Wood
Alice Neel Joan Mitchell
Joan Brown Eva Hesse
Georgia O’Keeffe Betye Saar
Kara Walker Yuriko Yamaguchi
Mary Edmonia Lewis Faith Ringgold
Maya Lin Cindy Sherman
Shahzia Sikander Jenny Holzer
• Teacher gives the assignment: each pair of students will research the artist they have selected within a specified period of time. They will write a research report of 500 to 750 words (or a specific limit, determined by the individual teacher) about the artist and her work, find a representative work and bring a Xeroxed or printed copy of that work, and if possible, bring a photocopied photograph of the artist. The report should include the following when available for the artist:
o Birth and death dates (if applicable) and nationality
o Art education
o Influences from other artists
o What kind of painting, sculpture, etc. is the artist known for
o Is this artist associated with any particular group or style? Explain
o Would you like to meet this artist? If so, what would you like to ask her?
At this time teacher might also want to review how to do research, where to begin, and how the bibliography needs to look.
• Half way into the specified time for research and writing of the report, teacher takes part of a class period or the entire period to have each pair of students report on what they have found and if they are having any problems with their artist. At this point in the assignment, students should have completed their research.
• After completion of the reports, teacher and students take a class period to create a timeline of their female artists. When the timeline is complete, each pair of students introduces their artist in a five-minute presentation.
Assessment: to what extent did students
• Participate in group discussions about Maria van Oosterwyck’s Still Life with Flowers?
• Co-research and write a report about a selected female artist, bring a sample of this artist’s artwork and (optional) a photograph of the artist?
• Introduce the female artist to the class in a five-minute report?
Maria van Oosterwyck was the first Dutch internationally recognized woman artist. There are only approximately twenty paintings, mostly flower still lifes, known today by her, the earliest from 1667 and the latest 1689. She was born in Nootdorf, near Delft in 1630. Her father and grandfather were both ministers in the Dutch Reformed Church. Her first biographer, Arnold Houbraken, in the eighteenth century reported that she received instruction from the well-known still life painter Jan Davidsz de Heem of Utrecht. Subsequent scholars were skeptical, but today art historians believe that van Oosterwyck encountered de Heem when he visited the northern Netherlands around 1658. She would have been 28 at that time.
Maria van Oosterwyck kept a painting studio in Delft until she moved to Amsterdam in 1672 or 73. She trained her maid Geertje Pieters to be her assistant. She taught Pieters so well that Pieters also sold her own paintings. Houbraken, her biographer, reported that the flower painter Willem van Aelst visited Maria and proposed marriage to her. According to the story Maria van Oosterwyck did not want to marry but also did not want to hurt her friend’s feelings. She thus presented van Aelst with a challenge: if he painted every day for a year she would marry him. Van Aelst’s studio window was across the street from van Oosterwyck’s and she was able to see when he painted and when he did not. She worked every day and recorded on her window ledge a mark for every day that van Aelst did not paint. At the end of the year she was able to point out to him the marks which showed that he had missed work many days. Van Oosterwyck never married.
In Amsterdam Van Oosterwyck found great success. She received commissions from an international circle of wealthy, royal patrons. Among her clients were Louis XIV of France, William III of England, the king of Poland, and Leopold I, ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. It has been reported that she visited England in 1687 and possibly worked for William III and Mary II. Van Oosterwyck’s success was only rivaled by one other female Dutch painter Rachel Ruysch. Maria’s biographer described her as being very devout and charitable, purchasing the freedom of Dutch soldiers captured by Algerian pirates on several occasions. She painted until she died at the age of 63 in Uitdam, north of Amsterdam.
About Women Artist in the 16th and 17th Centuries:
During the sixteenth century art played an important role in society, and highly trained artists received commissions from political, religious, scientific and intellectual leaders of the time. Women were generally barred from the sophisticated training necessary to succeed as a professional artist. Few women were even educated, and those who were came from the middle-class and the aristocracy and were taught either in the home or in a convent. If these few women received any art training, it was with the intention of making them more attractive as marriage partners and better able to entertain relatives and friends. Women were not admitted to workshops and were also limited in their ability to travel. Thus, women artists were few and were generally the children, siblings, or spouses of successful male artists from whom they could learn the necessary skills and make contacts for an independent artistic career.
During the seventeenth century women artists from northern Europe were more fortunate than those in Italy where the Roman Catholic Church remained the principal patron. The Dutch Republic gained its independence from Spanish control in 1648 and as a result the newly wealthy middle class wanted artworks for their homes that reflected their everyday lives. New artistic genres, like landscape, portraits, scenes of everyday life, and still life became popular. In fact, the seventeenth century is considered the Golden Age of still life painting. Still life painting was so popular that artists specialized in breakfast, dessert, flower, or fancy display paintings. Women artists in northern Europe were able to contribute to the development of both still life and genre (scenes of everyday life) painting.
Maria van Oosterwyck as the child of a minister did not receive her initial training from her father. Her successful study with de Heem and her own hard work made her the first Dutch internationally recognized woman artist in art history.
Title and date: Still Life with Flowers, 17th century
Artist and dates: Maria van Oosterwyck, 1630 – 1693
Maria von Oosterwyck was known for careful compositions with dramatic contrasts, set against a dark background. She worked very slowly and meticulously built up the surface of her paintings. She specialized in floral still lifes, preferring simple glass containers on shallow stone or marble shelves. She also included insects and shiny water droplets on her flowers and leaves. She painted on canvas, copper and panel, and usually signed her paintings with her full name on the edges of her shelves.
Van Oosterwyck became known for a poetic personal trademark in her still lifes – a butterfly with wings half spread, resting on a book, a ledge or on a stem or petal of a flower. She used the butterfly as a device to lead the viewer into her paintings. These insects also embodied her deep religious beliefs. Butterflies symbolized both the Resurrection of Christ and that of the human soul on Judgment Day. Such symbols were characteristic of seventeenth century Dutch still lifes with references to the vanity of earthly existence and pleasures and the need to take care of the soul through devotion to God. The poet Dirk Shelte, in fact, so admired Maria van Oosterwyck that he composed a verse celebrating the beauty of both her painted bouquets and her personal character of chastity and religiosity.
A deep pink/red rose in full bloom and on the edge of decline is the focal point of Maria van Oosterwyck’s Still Life with Flowers. The white butterfly sitting on its outer petal contrasts with the very dark background and calls attention to the rose. A tightly rolled bud sits below the rose and above the rose are carnations or pinks, one of which has fallen on the counter or table. The dark green foliage almost merges with the dark background. A blue ribbon on the right appears to tie this impromptu bouquet together. This small bouquet sits on a rose-colored stone ledge of a table or cabinet with white veins running through the stone.
www.metmuseum.org “Thematic Essay: Still-Life Painting in Northern Europe, 1600 – 1800.” 1/28/09.
Delia Gaze, editor. Dictionary of Women Artists, Volume 2. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1997.
Nancy G. Heller. Women Artists: Works from the National Museumof Women in the Arts. Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 2000.
Erika Langmuir and Norbert Lynton. The Yale Dictionary of Art and Artists, Yale University Press, 2000.
Chris Petteys. Dictionary of Women Artists. An international dictionary of women artists born before 1900. G.K. Hall & Co., 1985.
Abby Remer. Pioneering Spirits. Davis Publications, Inc., 1997.