After the liberation of the Netherlands from Spain in 1648, the Dutch established a republic. The middle class found themselves in control of the society. They did not have an extensive history as art patrons as the wealthy merchants and military nobility of Burgundy did.
The middle class was eager to patronize the arts, proud of their new status as civic leaders. Many of them preferred genre scenes, scenes representing what they knew of their everyday life. Genre scenes became a major subject matter of paintings during the Dutch Baroque period. The realism strain of painting suited the genre perfectly.
Leyster, a native of Haarlem, painted in a fashion that sometimes combined the dramatic lighting of the theatrical strain of Baroque painting, with genre subjects done in an earthy realism. Haarlem was the city of Frans Hals, known for genre scenes and landscapes. Leyster's work is informed by Hals, although her surfaces tend to be less complex. This work, with the carefree, laughing countenances is reminiscent of Hals, although they brush work is more controlled.
Artform: PAINTING AND DRAWING, Pre-20th Century
Artist: Leyster, Judith
Artist Dates: 1609-1660
Period: 17th century
Medium: oil on canvas
Size: 74.6 x 65.1 cm
Museum: National Gallery of Art, Washington
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