Lizzy Ansingh was a famous Dutch painter, noted for her doll paintings. What made her paintings so unique was her representation of dolls not as mere objects, but as animate things. Lizzy Ansingh, also known as Maria Elisabeth Georgina Ansingh, was born in the Dutch province of Utrecht, in Netherlands, to Edzard Willem Ansingh and Clara Theresia Schwartze. Her father was a pharmacist and her mother was a painter. Clara Theresia was the niece of the famous painter Therese Schwartze, who taught Lizzy drawing, and the granddaughter of the painter, Johann Georg Schwartze. The first drawings that Lizzy made were of angels and biblical scenes. Her choice of theological themes was partly inspired by her family’s strong religious values. Her aunt had a major influence on her, with whom she stayed for 16 years, from 1892 to 1908. She encouraged Lizzy to develop her artistic career and introduced her to famous Dutch and French painters when she went with her aunt to visit museums
and exhibitions, both at home and abroad. During her youth, she met many famous painters like Piet Mondriaan and George Hendrik Breitner. When Lizzy was 19 years old, she enrolled at the Amsterdam Royal Academy for Visual Arts where her professors included Carel Dake, Nicolaas van der Waay and August Allebe among others. There she studied Greek and Roman statues, which helped develop her knowledge of anatomy and helped her grow as a portrait painter. She left the Academy in 1897. At the Academy, she formed a strong bonding with a group of female painters like Marie van Regteren Altena, Coba Ritsema, Ans van den Berg, Jacoba Surie, Nelly Bodenheim, Jo Bauer-Stumpff and Betsy Westendorp-Osieck.

Lizzy became very famous for her portraits and doll paintings. Soon after leaving the Academy, she started painting small portraits, still life, tropical birds and dolls. The earliest portrait that she painted was in 1899, which was that of her mother. This portrait received much acclaim when it was exhibited at the Amsterdam Painters Association in St. Luke in 1900. Her foray into doll painting was most inspired from the works of her aunt. From the 1900s, her focus became painting dolls. These doll paintings depicted human virtues and vices and bore moral undertones. The most important painting of this era was a painting that depicted the seven deadly sins that she created in 1914. Even after Lizzy left her aunt’s place, they stayed in close contact with each other. In 1918, when her aunt passed away, she painted ‘The Funeral’ in her memory. The doll paintings in her later life were characterized by intimacy as well as naïve painting. Her paintings, like ‘Wedding Dolls’, which was created in 1936, show an ‘onacademische’ use of perspective while the characters have a very wooden look. Apart from painting, Lizzy also worked as an illustrator but only sporadically. In 1930, she illustrated Marie van Zeggelen’s ‘The Plaetse aan de Veght’ and ‘Twee Amsterdamsche Juffers’.  


Until tomorrow: A person who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the man doing it.