The Baroque era in art was a manifestation of seventeenth-century life. It was expressed in different ways in different regions. The Baroque was the child of the Renaissance and was in part the result of a religious crisis brought about by the Renaissance emphasis on beauty and humanity:
It did not raise hopes of eternity nor promise everlasting glory to the poor to compensate for their earthly lot. The limitation of its message partly explains why the religious crisis came to a head, leading both to the birth of Protestantism and to the efforts of the Catholic Church to reorganize itself as the Council of Trent. Baroque. . . became the interpreter of the Catholic Church. . .
Certain of the issues of the time were addressed by various artists in works that were considered controversial. One of the concerns addressed in various works was the nature of prostitution, the prevalence of the brothel, and the possibility of buying love. The Church reasserted certain moral prerogatives in the post-Renaissance era and tried to impose a certain moral restraint on art, criticizing and proscribing the depiction of the nude, for instance. Many northern artists created works involving prostitutes and brothels as a way of making a moral statement, and among the artists who can be seen creating such works were Judith Leyster, Lucas van Leyden, and Quentin Metsys, as an examination of certain of their works will show.
Judith Leyster was a woman painter in an age dominated by males. Only 20 paintings can be attributed to Leyster at this time. Leyster was accepted as a member of the Guild of St. Luke when she was 24. Her membership allowed her to sell her work on the open market, to establish a workshop, and to take on students. There is evidence of her assuredness in the art world of the time. Most of her works date from before her marriage to the artist Molenaer when she was 26. After that, she only painted one known work, "Tu...