Never heard of her. Michaelina Wautier (also Woutier, 1617-1689) was a Dutch painter – baroque, whose work was only recently attributed to herself rather than to other male artitsts, including her brother, Charles Wautier. There is a retrospective of her work. Michaelina: Baroque’s Leading Lady runs at the MAS (Hanzestedenplaats 1 2000 Antwerp, Belgium) until September 2.
Only around thirty works have been attributed as autograph, a situation perhaps compounded by Wautier’s marked accomplishment across genres—what few female painters there were at this time were usually confined to decorative floral work—and stylistic similarity to her brother, so that until only very recently Wautier has remained largely unknown in art history.
Michaelina Wautier presents a most curious case of a criminally overlooked talent. Noting the consistent quality shown here, we cannot trace any sign of development or decline. There are no “duds” — even her study pieces are fully worked up to a high finish. With very little to work with, Stighelen and the MAS have drawn upon the mystery to create a compelling tourist attraction, stoking the hope that more works will someday come to light.