Female Artist Spotlight: Rachel Ruysch

Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750) was a Dutch still-life painter from the Netherlands. She speacialised in botanical paintings, inventing her own style and enjoying international fame during her lifetime.

Rachel was the daughter of the botanist, physician and anatomist, Frederik Ruysch who had a large collection of animal and botanical samples. Rachel used these to practice drawing and later taught both her father and sister how to paint.

At the age of fifteen Rachel became apprentice to Willem van Aelst, who not only taught her to paint, but how to arrange a boquet of flowers to look more natural and spontaneous. This contributed to Rachel's more individual and realistic painting style.

In 1693 Rachel married another Dutch painter and together they had 10 children. She continued to paint throughout motherhood which enabled her to fund childcare and continue her career. She painted from the age of 15 to 83, just a few years before her death, becoming one of the most prolific and successful still life artists of all time.