Known as Zoust by his contemporaries, Gerard or Gilbert Soest was probably born in the Netherlands, although some accounts say that he was from Germany. It is thought that he trained as an artist in Holland, but by the 1650s Soest was living in London, working as a portrait painter. His style is very similar to that of other Dutch portraitists in the mid-seventeenth century. His sitters are well-characterised, conventionally posed with smoothly painted faces. Interestingly, the hands of his sitters often appear slightly swollen. Despite his success as a painter, Soest received some criticism from women who felt that their portraits were not flattering enough. It is said that because of this, between 1660 and 1667 Soest refused to paint any women at all.