National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Portrait of a Member of the Haarlem Civic Guard Frans Hals (artist)
Dutch, c. 1582/1583 - 1666
Portrait of a Member of the Haarlem Civic Guard, c. 1636/1638
oil on canvas
overall: 86 x 69 cm (33 7/8 x 27 3/16 in.) framed: 110.2 x 95.3 x 7.6 cm (43 3/8 x 37 1/2 x 3 in.)
Andrew W. Mellon Collection
1937.1.68
On View
From the Tour: Frans Hals
Object 2 of 7

The steel breastplate identifies this sitter as a soldier, but his broad-brimmed hat and lace collar and cuffs reveal that he is dressed to pose for an artist, not to engage in military maneuvers. Hals painted six gigantic group portraits of Dutch civic guards, but this is his only known portrait of an individual soldier.

As the Netherlands fractured into north and south along political and religious lines in the late 1500s, the civic guards battled heroically to win the north's independence from Spain. By Hals' time, though, these numerous militias had become social fraternities. Named for a patron saint, each guard group was divided into three companies based on the colors of the Dutch flag: orange, white, and blue. His sash marks this soldier as a member of an orange company.

With great bravura, the smiling man stands before a window overlooking a distant plain or sea. Only two of Hals' other portraits of single figures include such landscape vistas.

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