Rose is a young women who is in love with Godfrey Schalken, a not very promising painter. Schalken is the pupil of Rose's uncle, a renowned Dutch artist.
One day at sunset, a mysterious stranger of wealthy appearance visits the studio. The stranger comes to buy a painting but leaves with the promise given by Rose's uncle to marry his young niece. Rose is unaware of her fate, as well as Schalken, but both will find out soon enough.
The story takes place in Leiden (the Netherlands) in 1650.