National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Portrait of an Elderly Lady Frans Hals (artist)
Dutch, c. 1582/1583 - 1666
Portrait of an Elderly Lady, 1633
oil on canvas
overall: 102.5 x 86.9 cm (40 3/8 x 34 3/16 in.) framed: 142.4 x 126.7 x 15.2 cm (56 1/16 x 49 7/8 x 6 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
1937.1.67
On View
From the Tour: Frans Hals
Object 1 of 7

One of Hals' most impressive portraits of women, this canvas bears a Latin inscription giving the sitter's age as sixty in the year 1633. Though her identity is unknown, her personality is clearly conveyed by the twinkle in her eyes, the smile on her half-parted lips, the firm grip of her hand on the chair, and the strength of her silhouette against the light gray-brown background.

The prayer book implies a pious character, and her clothing is conservative for the period. The velvet-trimmed brocade jacket, satin skirt, and lace cuffs and cap recall that Haarlem's wealth depended upon textiles. The linen ruff collar, then going out of style, would have been starched and supported on concealed wires.

Hals' portraits were often commissioned in pairs that depict husbands and wives facing each other. It is possible that a similarly sized canvas in the Frick Collection, New York City, showing an elderly man standing behind a chair, is the mate to this engaging work.

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