Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Art History and Visual Culture



First Advisor

Sarah Cantor

Second Advisor

James Hutson

Third Advisor

Melissa Elmes


Nocturnal genre scenes were on the rise in the seventeenth-century Netherlands. With new technologies and advances taking place during this time, people were staying out later and partaking in more nocturnal activities. Both men and women engaged in these new nightly endeavors, but there were still notable expectations in regards to gender roles for men and women. As seen in the scholarship included within this thesis, men were allotted more freedom than women. The Dutch artists who chose to specialize in nocturnal genre scenes depicted these well-known gender roles within their paintings. Seventeenth-century women artists Judith Leyster and Gesina ter Borch worked within the realm of nocturnal genre scenes. Based on the gender roles of the time, these two prominent artists challenged what was deemed acceptable for women in their scenes; whereas their male contemporaries tended to depict what was considered respectable. While previous scholarship has examined the nocturnal scenes of both Leyster and Gesina, as well as their peers, there has not been a discussion on how the specific paintings included would fare on the market. As seen by a variety of scholars, the seventeenth-century Dutch art market was growing rapidly. This development allowed artists to start specializing and tailoring their paintings to attract potential buyers, such as a group known as collectors. This group mostly consisted of middle-to-upper class citizens, but varied in their employment and age. Therefore, while this thesis analyzes nocturnal genre scenes and the seventeenth-century gender roles depicted in them, it also focuses on the market success of these artists and their scenes.


Copyright 2022, Jordan J. Harris.