Pieter Lastman was the pre-eminent history painter of his generation in the Northern Netherlands. Born in Amsterdam to Catholic parents, Lastman trained with the painter Gerrit Pietersz and from 1602 spent several years in Italy. In Rome he became friends with Adam Elsheimer and Peter Paul Rubens. In 1607 Lastman returned to Amsterdam, where he spent the rest of his career. His paintings focus on the narrative, often on emotional turning points, employing expressive figures and rich detail that help to follow the story. Most of his paintings depict biblical subjects but sometimes he chose uncommon stories from ancient history or mythology. For some of those, Lastman took inspiration from his library which contained about 150 books – a large number for an artist of his period. Lastman’s pictorial language had a decisive impact on seventeenth-century Dutch history painting, not least on Rembrandt, his most famous pupil, who trained with Lastman for six months in 1625 and on Jan Lievens, who was his pupil around 1617-19. Lastman died a bachelor in his hometown in 1633, aged 50.