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According to the story from the Old Testament (Genesis 38) Judah, having consented to the marriage of his youngest son to his daughter-in-law Tamar, failed to keep his word when the boy came of age. In revenge Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and seduced Judah, after having received his ring, bracelet and staff. She later produced these pledges, thus saving her life, and bore him two sons. This painting shows the moment when Tamar demands the pledges from Judah. Old Testament stories were popular subjects for paintings in 17th-century Holland and contemporary viewers would have immediately recognised the source for this picture.Aert de Gelder, a native of Dordrecht, was Rembrandt's last pupil. He worked in his studio in Amsterdam in the 1660s before returning to Dordrecht. De Gelder's style, with its loose and fluid brushstrokes and muted palette, remained remarkably close to Rembrandt's late style, while the general taste at the time favoured a Flemish-influenced more colourful and tightly executed manner of painting.
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