Maria van Oosterwyck (1630 16/36-1693). Painter of still lifes, notably fruit and flower pieces. She was born in Delft, father and grandfather both preachers, and she studied with Willem van Aelst

According to Arnold Houbraken she was the student of flower painter jan Davidsz de Heem (1606-1683/84)

To the right her most opulent work, a Vanitas Still life, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Van Oosterwyck also worked in Amsterdam (not Delft, according to Bredius) where she taught her maidservant Geertje Pieters (1665-1735) to ground paint pigments and later on also to paint; later on Pieters indeed sold her own paintings. Pieters was the source who told Houbraken the story about Van Aelst's advances: the elderly painter Willem van Aelst could reach her studio from the back of his house. Van Oosterwyck alledgedly stipulated she would yield if he were to sit and paint in his own studio every day for a full year. However, a document drawn up by a notary public in 1767, published by Bredius, states that they were once neighbors in Amsterdam.

During the production process of the map I was under the impression the Geertje Pieters story was in Delft. The pinpoint on my historic map of Delft is erroneous.

She belonged to the top income bracket in the art of painting in Holland, earning above 100 guilders per painting; another female painter Rachel Ruysch being among that elite. In 1666 Maria lent money to the Van Stralen sisters in Delft.She was active outside Delft 1667-1689. In 1675 and 1677 she donated major sums of money ( 1500 and 750 guilders) in order to free three Dutch sailors who were imprisoned as hostages by Algerian pirates.

Female painters were not enrolled in the Guild but they did play a role in producing paintings in the lower price range - of up to a few guilders a piece. They were also employed to peddle these or other paintings in the street. Known female painters in Delft are Cornelia de Rijck, Maria van Oosterwyck and her assistant Geertje Pieters. Then we find Maria van Pruyssen. Of this group Maria van Oosterwyck has the off position of a highly paid 'art amateur' who was really painting on a professional level.

Note: Arnold Houbraken, De groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen, 3 vols, Amsterdam 1718-1721, facsimile printed in 1943, II, 169-170 and 214-215. According to Beydals the birth year was 1636. Dates of birth and death are given as 1630-1693 in De stad Delft, exh cat. 1981, II, ill. 215. RKD, Bredius archive, artist folder quotes her as "vermaart konstschilderesse" (famous female painter) and the 1666 loan of 300 gulders to two sisters Van Stralen in Delft. Soutendam, Necrologium, p. 26. Thieme-B. XXVI, 1932, p. 25. Saur, 1992, I, p. 442. One of her paintings fetched 15 guilders; Bredius Kunstler-Inventare IV p. 1257. E.B.M. Salden-Campfens (red.) Delftse vrouwen van vroeger, Delft 1975, p. 43-55. Els Kloek, Vrouwen en kunst in de Republiek, een overzicht, Hilversum 1998, p. 160. Bredius on Van Oosterwyck Oud Holland 1935, p.180-181.

Houbraken II p. 214-215 tells of her studio in the back of her Grandfather's house was also near the back of Willem van Aelst's studio. If this indeed happened in 1656/57 then her Delft location is known.



This page forms part of a large encyclopedic site on Delft. Research by Drs. Kees Kaldenbach (email). A full presentation is on view at

Launched 16 February 2001; Last update March 1, 2017. More info in the RKD site.