Joanna Koerten was Dutch artist. She worked with different medias as painting, drawing, embroidery, glass etching and wax modelling. But she is best known for her work as a silhouette cutter, the art of creating outline images from pieces of cut paper mounted on a contrasting background.
Papercut is a dainty craft, but it isn’t seen as a proper art. It’s very easy to overlook the dexterity required to make it. Using this media, she produced landscapes, seascapes, flowers, portraits and even religious scenes.
Joanna Koerten could cut portraits with the same precision that a painter and she knew her work could not be dismissed.
When she started to cut portraits instead of landscapes, she chose to cut portraits of famous people, like emperors and kings. It was so different that these portraits made her famous internationally, some travellers went to Holland, Amsterdam, especially to see her work and buy it.
As she worked with paper, a very delicate material vulnerable to the elements, only fifteen of her works remain. But the existence of others can be inferred from descriptions in old auction lists.
- Peter the Great of Russia, Frederick Elector of Brandenburg, Johan de Witt and William III of England were some of her important clients.
- Some of her works can be seen in the Stedelijk Museum De Lakenhal (Leiden), in the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (The Hague), in Kasteel-Museum Sypesteyn (nl) (Loosdrecht) and in Westfries Museum (Hoorn).
- BBC series: The Story of Women in Art
- Resources Huygens ING
- Wikimedia Commons (all photos)
If you want more information:
- For a description of her oeuvre see: Catalogus van een overheerlijk konstkabinet papiere snykonst, door wylen Mejuffrouw Koerten, huisvrouw van wylen Adriaan Blok, met de schaar in papier gesneden (Amsterdam ca.1750).