RKD podcast: Betsy Westendorp-Osieck

Betsy Westendorp-Osieck

In the podcast series on women collectors, a new episode has just been released. Art historian Martine Bontjes tells podcast maker Caspar Stalenhoef about her research on artist and collector Betsy Westendorp-Osieck (1880-1968), the youngest member of the Amsterdam Joffers.

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Betsy Westendorp-Osieck

Merchant's daughter Betsy Osieck loved drawing from an early age and enjoyed a considerable drawing education. During her studies, she befriended Lizzy Ansingh, whom she became an apprentice to. Like Ansingh, Osieck became a member of the Amsterdam Joffers, a group of female artists who knew each other from the Rijksakademie. A successful career as a painter, pastelist and illustrator followed. She was known for portraits in soft pastels, but also created dark cityscapes and still lifes. Osieck was an active member of several artists' associations, including Arti et Amicitiae, the Vereeniging Sint Lucas and Pulchri Studio.

1. Portrait of Betsy Osieck, c. 1900
2. Betsy Westendorp-Osieck, Memories, 1909, private collection
3. The Westendorp-Osieck couple in Dresden, 1922, collection RKD, Betsy and Herman Karel Westendorp-Osieck Archive

Passionate collector

In 1917, Betsy Osieck married banker Herman Karel Westendorp (1868-1941). The two shared a love of fine art and Asian artefacts. In the 1920s and 1930s, the couple made many international trips to expand their art collection. Betsy Westendorp-Osieck was a particularly passionate collector and played an important role when acquiring new objects. On several occasions, she donated her own work to dealers to gain their favour. During these purchasing processes, Herman often relied on Betsy's judgement, according to their travel diaries. The collection of Asian art that the couple left behind is now housed at the Rijksmuseum.


Art historian Martine Bontjes researched Betsy Westendorp-Osieck for her master's thesis. She delved into the archives of the Rijksmuseum and the RKD, where the Betsy and Herman Karel Westendorp-Osieck Archive is kept. It contains much of Osieck's personal material, such as drawing books and photo albums, from which you can derive how she lived her life as an artist. Curious about the artistic life and collecting drive of the youngest Amsterdam Joffer? In the new podcast episode, which can be listened to on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, among others, Martine Bontjes joins Caspar Stalenhoef to discuss intriguing aspects of Betsy Westendorp-Osieck's life and work.

The new series of the podcast Kroniek Kunstgeschiedenis on women collectors in art between 1780 and 1980 is part of the research project The Other Half and was created thanks to support from the Wilhelmina Drucker Fundatie.

1. Details from a notebook of Betsy Osieck, 1896, collection RKD, Betsy and Herman Karel Westendorp-Osieck Archive
2 & 3. Peter Mookhoek, The interior of Betsy Westendorp-Osieck, 1967, collection RKD, Betsy and Herman Karel Westendorp-Osieck Archive