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EPILOGUE

As I have indicated in my essay, over the years I have gone through periods of being more and sometimes less engaged in working on Judith Leyster. In the spring of 2001, while I was working at the RKD in The Hague, I decided to look her up once again.

“Looking her up” means going through boxes of photographs. I finished the formal ones and then went on to the temporary (Voorordening) files—those where the photos are cut up but not yet pasted onto the usual gray card stock. Photographs could be in these temporary


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files for years, but these files would contain her works from recent sales and so forth.

As I went through these stuffed files (10–12 folders in two boxes), I admired some of the black-and-white reproductions and occasionally flipped them over to see where they were from. They were repeatedly stamped “Tent. Leyster 93–94” (Tent. is the Dutch abbreviation for tentoonstelling, meaning “exhibition”). I did not think much of the stamping and kept going. But some of the photographs were particularly familiar, and I checked and these also said “Tent. Leyster 93–94”—the same.

I suddenly realized that all of these photos had been cut from my own Leyster book! Indeed, I knew my publisher had generously given the RKD an unbound copy of my plates to cut up for their photograph files. But all the photos read “Tent. Leyster 93–94” instead of “Hofrichter 1989.” The exhibition reference is to the 1993–94 catalogue by James Welu and Pieter Biesboer. All my hard work (which was fundamental to their exhibition) was now attributed to them!

Yes. I brought the misattribution to the attention of the administrators and explained. They saw. They understood. I know it was not malicious. But I was told it would be difficult and would take a long time to repair. (Some files, I have been assured, have since been corrected.)

How could I work for years on Leyster and then see all my work, all the photographs from my book, stamped with another name? I told them, “This is how women are written out of history.”


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