Anna Maria van Schurman
Anna Maria van Schurman (November 5, 1607–May 4/May 14, 1678) was a German-Dutch painter, engraver, poet and scholar. She was a highly educated woman by seventeenth century standards. She excelled in art, music, and literature, and became proficient in 14 languages including contemporary European languages, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, Aramaic, and Ethiopian.
In 1613 after her father's death she moved to Utrecht with her mother and two aunts. In the 1630s she learned engraving from Magdalena van de Passe. In 1636 she studied as the first female student at the university. Women at that time were not permitted to study at a university, and for the lectures she attended she sat behind a curtain so that the male students could not see her. She had interests in literature and all kinds of sciences, but especially theology. She graduated in law.
Anna Maria also developed a wide variety of artistic interests. She produced delicate engravings by using a diamond on glass. She became expert in sculpture, wax modelling, and the carving of ivory and wood. She also painted, especially portraits.
In 1664 she met Jean de Labadie, a Jesuit who had converted to Protestantism. He had founded a contemplative religious sect known as Labadism. Anna Maria was fascinated by Labadie and his ideas and became his principal helper. The sect moved to Amsterdam but was not welcomed there and they moved again to Altona (then in Denmark now Germany), where Jean de Labadie died in 1674. Thereafter the group moved again to Wieuwerd in Friesland, where Anna Maria herself died in 1678. Labadism became extinct 70 years later around 1750.
"Whatever fills the human mind with uncommon and honest delight is fitting for a human woman."
- She published Whether the Study of Letters Is Fitting for a Christian Woman? In Dutch and was translated into French in 1646 and English in 1659; there is also a Latin version (Num feminae Christianae convenit studium litterarum), which is included in the collected edition of 1648 (see below).
- This argued, using the mediaeval technique of syllogism, that women should be educated in all matters but should not use their education in professional activity or employment and it should not be allowed to interfere in their domestic duties. For its time this was a radical position.
- Anna Maria published her last work "Eucleria" (1673) with Jean's support.
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- Anna Maria Schuurmans biography in De groote schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen (1718) by Arnold Houbraken, courtesy of the Digital library for Dutch literature
- Anna Maria van Schurman in the RKD
- Schurman, Anna Maria van. On the capacity of the female mind for learning. (1640)
- Pieta van Beek: The ﬁrst female university student: A.M.van Schurman, Utrecht 2010, 280p. free PDF
- Bo Karen Lee: I wish to be nothing: the role of self-denial in the mystical theology of A. M. van Schurman in: Women, Gender and Radical Religion in Early Modern Europe. Ed. Sylvia Brown. Leiden: 2008, 27 S. online at google-books
- Katharina M. Wilson and Frank J. Warnke (eds.), Women Writers of the Seventeenth Century, Athens: U. of Georgia Press, (1989) pp 164–185
- Mirjam de Baar et al. (eds.), Choosing the Better Part. Anna Maria van Schurman (1607-1678), Dordrecht, Boston, London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, (1996).
- Mirjam de Baar: Gender, genre and authority in seventeenth-century religious writing: Anna Maria van Schurman and Antoinette Bourignon as contrasting examples, 30p. free PDF
- Anna Maria van Schurman, Whether a Christian Woman Should Be Educated and Other Writing from Her Intellectual Circle, ed and trans by Joyce Irwin, Chicago 1998, online at google-books
- annamariavanschurman.org (by Pieta van Beek)
- A.M.Schurman in "Other Women's Voices"
- http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/jan-lievens-portrait-of-anna-maria-van-schurman (with zoom!)