Who is Alida Withoos?

By Gwylym Owen

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Alida Withoos (c. 1661/62 – 5 December 1730 (buried)) was a Dutch botanical artiste and painter. She was the daughter of the painter Matthias Withoos.

Alida Withoos was born in Amersfoort. With three brothers Johannes, Pieter, Frans, and her sister Maria, she was trained by her father in painting yet lifes and botanical illustrations. Because of the injury of Utrecht by the French, the relations moved to Hoorn in 1672. In 1701, Alida married the Fijnschilder Andries Cornelisz van Dalen, a typical example of relations together with artistic and painterly families in seventeenth and eighteenth century Holland.

A training in painting was expensive and not often resolved to daughters, but intelligent daughters could be trained to undertaking in the studio of their father, uncle, brother or spouse, often below his name. Unlike her husband, brothers and sister, Alida acquired a sure reputation painting under her own name, principally due to her botanical images. In Hoorn a number of the Withoos kids were responsive as artists of flowers, birds, butterflies and insects. In inventories, such images were regularly called “Withoosjes”.

Alida was – with her brother Pieter – one of the many artists who painted plants upon the country home place Vijverhof in the service of Agnes Block. She painted in 1687 (at Agnes Block’s) the first pineapple bred in Europe, though these images have regrettably not survived. Thirteen water colours that Alida made in 1694 for the coloured Moninckx Atlas, along taking into account 425 images of nature in the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam (where birds brought encourage in the ships of the Dutch East India Company were grown in neat rows as at Block’s house), have survived. The Library of Wageningen University own a tape of drawings bought by the saver Simon Schijnvoet that includes 7 by Alida Withoos, perhaps made for Block. These offer a great idea of the tall quality of her work.

She was buried in the Western Church in Amsterdam.

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