Judith Jansdr. Leyster was born in Haarlem. At the outset of her career she was influenced by the Utrecht followers of Caravaggio, and this influence can be seen in, for example, half-length representations of happy musicians and drinkers against a neutral background, as well as in the use of a light and shade contrasts.
In about 1629 she was probably a pupil of Frans Hals, and witnessed the baptism of one of the master’s children in 1631. She was also influenced by Dirck Hals. By 1633 Leyster was a member of the Haarlem guild. In 1635 she had three pupils, which indicates that she was regarded as a famous artist. In 1636 she married the painter Jan Miense Molenaer (who was probably also a pupil of Frans Hals), and although she continued to paint after this date, few works of this period are known today. She was one of the few professional women painters of the Dutch Golden Age.
She worked in Amsterdam, Heemstede (where she died) and Haarlem. She was chiefly a genre painter, but we know that she was also interested in flower painting, mostly after 1635.