We are delighted to announce that The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will be hosting two paintings from The Klesch Collection — Portrait of an Unknown Noblewoman (c. 1560–1565) by Sofonisba Anguissola and Merry Company (c. 1629) by Judith Leyster. These pictures are now hanging in the museum’s European Paintings galleries, following a five-year renovation.
Sofonisba Anguissola (c. 1532–1625) was one of the first women artists to achieve international acclaim. Early on in her career, Anguissola’s talent was recognised by Michelangelo (1475–1564) and celebrated by Giorgio Vasari (1511–1574) in his famous publication, Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects in 1568. This portrait, painted when Anguissola was a lady-in-waiting at the court of King Philip II and Queen Isabel de Valois of Spain, exemplifies her refined style, which captures the charm and spirit of the sitter.
Dutch artist Judith Leyster (1609–1660), born in Haarlem, is now considered one of the central figures of Dutch 17th-century painting. In 1633, Leyster became the first woman in Europe to become a master of the Guild of St Luke, which allowed her to set up a workshop in Haarlem and sell her paintings independently. After her death, Leyster’s work was often misattributed to male peers, even though she had a distinct style and expertise when depicting genre scenes, showcased with great virtuosity in Merry Company.
It is a great honour to have these two paintings hanging amongst The Met’s rich collection of world-renowned masterpieces, where they contribute to celebrating the invaluable role of women artists in the narrative of art history.