Having trained under Claes Cornelis Moeyaert, Salomon became a member of the Amsterdam guild of St. Luke in 1632. The present picture is dated by Sumowski to the mid-1640s, by which time the artist had fully absorbed the influence both of Rembrandt, with whose work he must have been familiar, and of the Leiden fijnschilders. Whilst the stimulus of the former can be seen, in particular, in the strong chiarascuro effects, the effect of the latter is more noticeable in the masterful rendition of the fabrics and metallic objects to which the artist has typically devoted special attention.
The subject comes from the Old Testament Book of Esther. King Ahasuerus of Persia, having dismissed his queen, Vashti, chose Esther to replace her, not knowing she was Jewish. When the king's minister, Haman, an anti-semite, decreed that all Jews in the Persian empire should be massacred, Esther was asked by her cousin Mordecai to intercede with the king. To see the king without being summoned was forbidden on pain of death, even for the queen, and Esther is here depicted summoning up her courage and dressing in her finest robes prior to her unscheduled, yet ultimately successful meeting. A picture of the preceding scene from the story, Esther reading Haman's Decree (location unknown), may have been painted by Koninck in conjunction with the present panel although their measurements differ (see Sumowski, op. cit., no. 1086).