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Rachel Ruysch was a still life painter from the Northern Netherlands who specialized in flowers. She was born in The Hague to Frederik Ruysch & Maria Post. Ruysch’s maternal grandfather, Pieter Post, was an important architect, and her father was an eminent scientist. From him, she learned how to observe and record nature with great accuracy.
The family moved to Amsterdam, when she was 3; her father became a professor there. He was a famous anatomist and botanist, and his family received visitors to view his personal collection of rarities in the curiosity cabinet in his house.
With her brothers and sisters, Rachel assisted her father decorating the prepared specimens in a liquor balsamicum with flowers and lace. Her father made a catalog of his work and illustrated it himself.
Rachel's mother's network of painter friends was large, as the daughter of Pieter Post. Young Rachel began to paint the flowers and insects of her father's collection. In 1685, her father became a professor of botany at the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam.
In 1679, at age 15, Ruysch was apprenticed to Willem van Aelst, a prominent flower painter in Amsterdam. In 1693, she married the Amsterdam portrait painter Juriaen Pool, with whom she had 10 children. Her sister Pieternel married the painter Jan Moninckx, and another sister Anna conveniently married a dealer in paints.
Ruysch practiced her art in the Baroque period of art history. Baroque art was a style that arose in Europe around 1600, as a reaction against the earlier Mannerist style, an intricate and formulaic approach which had dominated the late Renaissance period. The Baroque style was less complex and more realistic.
...Ruysch lived 85 years; her dated works establish, that she painted from the age of 15 until she was an octogenarian. She remained artistically active, inscribing her age on a canvas she completed in 1747, at age 83.