Michaelina Wautier

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Michaelina Wautier
Zelfportret wautier.jpg
Self-portrait, 1649
Died1689(1689-00-00) (aged 71–72)
Notable work
The Triumph of Bacchus (1650)
MovementBaroque painting
FamilyCharles Wautier (brother)

Michaelina Wautier, also Woutiers (1617–1689), was a painter from the Southern Netherlands. Only recently[when?] has her work been recognized as that of an outstanding female Baroque artist, her works having been previously attributed to male artists, especially her brother Charles.[1]


Born in Mons, Wautier was the youngest daughter of a family of eight children, including six boys. She shared her life with her brother, the painter Charles Wautier. Shortly after 1640, they settled in a mansion near the Chapel Church in Brussels.[2]


Michaelina Wautier painted in small formats as well as more ambitious canvases with as main subjects history, religion and mythology. At the time, large format paintings were still considered a preserve of male painters. Wautier multiplied representations of genre scenes, historical paintings, as well as more detailed representations of flower garlands.[3] Her works also include a series of portraits. She was distinguished from other women painters by the diversity of her subjects and formats.[4]

Her first self-portrait, painted in 1649, was long mistakenly associated with the Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi. It remains one of Wautier's most famous paintings.[5] The painting is included in the 1905 book Women Painters of the World.[6] It was not until 1672 that the painter Elisabeth-Sophie Chéron produced what is considered the first female self-portrait in France.[7]

The painting named The Triumph of Bacchus (1650, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna) is often cited as one of the most representative of her works. She was familiar with masculine anatomy and painted it without shame, becoming one of the first female painters to expose a naked man.[7] The artist depicted herself in the middle of the colourful crowd. She is the only character to look at the viewer.[2]

Unlike many other women painters of this period, Wautier received recognition while alive. In particular, she sold four paintings to Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria for his painting gallery. The paintings are mentioned in the inventory of the collection drawn up in 1659.[8] However, her work fell into oblivion after her death. Some art historians link this absence to the attribution of her paintings to Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert, Jacob van Oost or her brother Charles Wautier.[9]



From June to September 2018, the first complete retrospective on Michaelina Wautier was shown at the Museum aan de Stroom in Antwerp (MAS) (who organised the exhibition along with the Rubenshuis). It was curated by the art historian Katlijne Van der Stighelen.[2][10]


  1. ^ Baumbardner, Julie (4 June 2017). "Michaelina Wautiers' Paintings Were Attributed to Her Brother for Hundreds of Years". The Observer. Retrieved 28 June 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Michaelina | MAS | Museum aan de Stroom". www.mas.be (in French). Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  3. ^ Sanzsalazar, Jahel (January 2014). "Michaelina Wautier et les fiançailles de son frère : histoire d'un portrait identifié". Tendencias del Mercado del Arte (in French): 90–94.
  4. ^ Magazine, Cheek (2018-04-30). "8 expos Cheek à voir en mai hors de Paris". ChEEk Magazine (in French). Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  5. ^ "Female Old Master Painter Gets Her First Big Show | artnet News". artnet News. 2017-01-27. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  6. ^ Shaw Sparrow, Walter (1905). Women painters of the world: from the time of Caterina Vigri, 1413–1463, to Rosa Bonheur and the present day. University of Michigan Library. p. 352.
  7. ^ a b Dambrine, Pierre. "Michaelina Wautier (1617–1689), une femme peintre tombée dans l'oubli". www.wukali.com (in French). Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  8. ^ Michaelina Wautier in the RKD. Accessed 10 May 2018.
  9. ^ "Michaelina Wautiers' Paintings Were Attributed to Her Brother for Hundreds of Years". Observer. 2017-04-06. Retrieved 2018-05-01.
  10. ^ "Rubenshuis zoekt zes schilderijen van de 17de-eeuwse Michaelina Wautier". ATV – Antwerpse televisie (in Dutch). Retrieved 2018-05-01.

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