Listening to Art

05.11: Judith Leyster, Happy Company

Download (MP3).

Listening to Art, by William Denton.

Volume five, number eleven: Happy Company by Judith Leyster.

Hello, and welcome to Listening to Art. I’m William Denton.

Judith Leyster was Dutch, living from 1609 to 1660, which makes her a generation younger than Frans Hals (who we heard earlier in this volume, in issues two through four) though she died, aged 58, a few years before him. Female painters were rare back then, though there were more in Holland at that time than one might expect. She was one of two women painters in Haarlem’s Guild of St. Luke (the guild for painters, potters and other related professions), and there were more women who were not members. Nevertheless, they were far outnumbered by men. Her career as an artist was cut short when she married, in 1636, to another painter; she had five children and seems to have stopped painting and managed the family business.

Leyster was well known in her lifetime but eventually forgotten, with her work being attributed to other artists, including Frans Hals. She was brought back to attention in 1893 and her works, few though they are that survive, hang in several major galleries.

James A. Welu begins his “Introduction” to Judith Leyster: A Dutch Master and Her World with this (p. 11):

One of the few master women painters of Holland’s golden age, Judith Leyster (1609–1660) was remarkable for her time. She was the only female member of the painters’ guild known to have had a workshop and the only woman painter whose work attests to an active role in the art market. Born into a non-artistic family in Haarlem, Leyster pursued a profession dominated by men, actively painting for the open market, then a relatively new form of art patronage that was to transform the art world. Leyster’s oeuvre is small, yet in subject and style her captivating scenes of everyday life compose a microcosm of Haarlem genre painting at its height.

Happy Company, also known as Carousing Couple, dates from 1630.

This is a painting, oil on wood, 57 cm wide by 68 cm high.

Now let’s listen to Happy Company by Judith Leyster, recorded at the Louvre, in Paris, on 18 July 2019.

Waveform of the field recording.

That was Happy Company by Judith Leyster. I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I did.

For more information and links to things I’ve mentioned, please visit

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All web sites accessed as of date of publication.

Musée du Louvre. “La joyeuse Compagnie.” Site officiel du musée du Louvre.

Welu, James A. “Introduction.” In Judith Leyster: A Dutch Master and Her World, ed. James A. Welu and Pieter Biesboer (Zwolle, Netherlands: Waanders Publishers, 1993), 11–14.

Wikipedia, s.v. “Judith Leyster,”