chapter  1
35 Pages

A Star is Born: The Education and Fame of a Savante

Van Schurman's artistic education included embroidery, calligraphy, intricate paper cutting, pastel painting she was the first Hollander to paint a pastel portrait glass engraving, wax modelling, and miniature carvings intended as gifts. Van Schurman had warned the Dordrecht physician once before that his praise of her was doing the cause of women's education more harm than good: there are many, she notes apprehensively, who bar women from higher learning and think that this more refined adornment does not suit our sex and that access to this sanctum of Minerva is not open to us'. In the same vein, Van Schurman valued education for women as a retreat from the troubled world and a haven for scholarly pursuit. Her quietistic approach', in Joyce Irwin's words, led her to emphasize the enrichment value of education rather than the activist teleology that characterized a humanist education for men. Van Schurman's fame crossed geographical borders, attracting early interest from French savants.