Alida Withoos

A study of Aconitum, or monkshood

Alida Withoos was born in Amersfoort, ca. 1659. Her father, Mathias Withoos, was a painter, who mostly painted landscapes and still life scenes – the latter meticulously (sometimes almost scientifically) depicting flowers, plants and insects. Mathias taught his daughter well, and Alida also became an artist. She worked for some time in Hoorn, where her father also spent his last years. After his death in 1703, Alida moved to Amsterdam, where she married the painter Andries van Dalen. She died in 1730.

Like with most of the rare female artists of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, such as Clara Peeters or Rachel Ruysch, Alida Witoos’s small oeuvre consists almost solely of still life paintings and a series of studies of plants (on paper), that presumably once formed part of a sketchbook. Several of these sheets are now in museums, such as the Study of Rubus phoenicolasius (Japanese wine berry), now in the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin. The present work, on account of the sheet size and paper type, surely comes from the same series.

Depicted is a study of Aconitum or monkshood, a highly poisonous plant that can be found almost everywhere in moderate areas in the northern hemisphere. Withoos has depicted the delicate flower petals and leaves with great care and accuracy, in the tradition of other northern ‘botanical’ artists of the period, such as Pieter II Holsteyn or Johannes Bronckhorst.

Artist: Alida Withoos (Amersfoort 1659/60 - 1730 Hoorn)
Medium: watercolour and bodycolour on laid paper
Dimensions: 330 x 230 mm
Provenance: Collection Prof. I.Q. Rechteren van Altena, until 2015.