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Jan Lievens, Portrait of Anna Maria van Schurman

Key facts
Full title Portrait of Anna Maria van Schurman
Artist Jan Lievens
Artist dates 1607 - 1674
Date made 1649
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 87 × 68.6 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Presented by the Trustees of the British Museum, 1880
Inventory number NG1095
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of Anna Maria van Schurman
Jan Lievens

Anna Maria van Schurman (1607–1678) was one of the most important thinkers of her day and the first woman in the Netherlands to attend university. She was well known in European intellectual circles, and was an accomplished artist, poet and linguist, as well as a passionate advocate of women’s rights to education.

In this portrait, Lievens focuses on her status as a writer. She sits upright and looks at us directly and confidently, modestly but expensively dressed in a fur wrap and chemise. He also portrays her in an active, not reflective, light. The book which she holds has, or at least appears to have, blank pages. So she is not reading, but about to write: her pen and inkstand stand ready before her on the oriental rug which covers her desk.

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