Overview

Frans Hals was the preeminent portrait painter in Haarlem, the most important artistic center of Holland in the early part of the seventeenth century. He was famous for his uncanny ability to portray his subjects with relatively few bold brushstrokes, and often used informal poses to enliven his portraits.

Hals portrayed this gentleman with his right shoulder turned slightly toward the viewer and his left arm akimbo. His shoulder-length, wavy brown hair falls on either side of his face from under a black hat with a moderately wide brim. With his right hand, he gently pulls his black cape forward, while his left hand holds one of his gloves. The man’s identity is not known, but his fashionable attire and dignified bearing indicate that he was a person of means. The three-quarter-length pose adds to the dignity of this debonair man.

The bold and sure brushwork of this portrait are consistent with similar works executed by the mature master in the early 1650s. The sketchy contours around the hat and cape reveal that Hals improvised and adjusted his design as he worked.

Inscription

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Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Probably bequeathed by Lord Frederick Campbell [1729-1816] to William Pitt Amherst, 1st earl Amherst of Arracan [1773-1857], Montreal, Sevenoaks, Kent;[1] by inheritance to his son, William Pitt Amherst, 2nd earl Amherst of Arracan [1805-1886]; by inheritance to his son, William Archer Amherst, 3rd earl Amherst of Arracan [1836-1910]; by inheritance to his brother, Hugh Amherst, 4th earl Amherst of Arracan [1856-1927];[2] (Sedelmeyer Gallery, Paris); sold 13 January 1911 to Peter A.B. Widener, Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania; inheritance from Estate of Peter A.B. Widener by gift through power of appointment of Joseph E. Widener, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania; gift 1942 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1894
Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters, and by Deceased Masters of the British School. Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1894, no. 81, as Portrait of a Burgomaster.
1910
Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters and Deceased Masters of the British School. Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1910, no. 89, as Portrait of a Burgomaster.
1911
100 Paintings by Old Masters, Sedelmeyer Gallery, Paris, 1911, no. 11.
1985
Loan for display with permanent collection, Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, 1985.
1989
Frans Hals, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Royal Academy of Arts, London; Frans Halsmuseum, Haarlem, 1989-1990, no. 71, repro.
1997
Rembrandt and the Golden Age: Dutch Paintings from the National Gallery of Art, The Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, 1997, unnumbered brochure.

Bibliography

1894
Royal Academy of Arts. Exhibition of works by the old masters, and by deceased masters of the British School. Exh. cat. Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1894: 20, no. 81.
1902
Davies, Gerald S. Frans Hals. London, 1902: 148, no. 81.
1907
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. 8 vols. Translated by Edward G. Hawke. London, 1907-1927: 3(1910):84, no. 294.
1907
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis. Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten holländischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts. 10 vols. Esslingen and Paris, 1907-1928: 3(1910):83, no. 294.
1909
Arundel Club. Sixth Year's Publications. London, 1909: no. 9, repro.
1909
Moes, Ernst Wilhelm. Frans Hals: sa vie et son oeuvre. Translated by J. de Bosschere. Brussels, 1909: 107, no. 162.
1910
"New Prints." The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 16, no. 82 (1910): 237-238.
1910
Royal Academy of Arts. Exhibition of works by the old masters and by deceased masters of the British school. Exh. cat. Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1910: 26, no. 89.
1911
Sedelmeyer, Charles. Illustrated catalogue of the eleventh series of 100 paintings by old masters of the Dutch, Flemish, Italian, French and English schools, being a portion of the Sedelmeyer Gallery. Paris, 1911: no. 11.
1913
Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis, and Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Pictures in the collection of P. A. B. Widener at Lynnewood Hall, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania: Early German, Dutch & Flemish Schools. Philadelphia, 1913: unpaginated, repro.
1914
Bode, Wilhelm von, and Moritz Julius Binder. Frans Hals: His Life and Work. 2 vols. Translated by Maurice W. Brockwell. Berlin, 1914: 2:19, no. 247, pl. 156.
1914
Bode, Wilhelm von, and Moritz Julius Binder. Frans Hals: Sein Leben und seine Werke. 2 vols. Berlin, 1914: 2:66, no. 247, pl. 156.
1914
Sedelmeyer, Charles. Hundred masterpieces. A selection from the pictures by old masters which form or have formed part of the Sedelmeyer Gallery. Paris, 1914: 40, no.18, repro.
1921
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Frans Hals: des meisters Gemälde in 318 Abbildungen. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 28. Stuttgart and Berlin, 1921: 320, repro. 242.
1923
Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1923: unpaginated, repro.
1923
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Frans Hals: des Meisters Gemälde in 322 Abbildungen. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 28. 2nd ed. Stuttgart, Berlin, and Leipzig, 1923: 321, repro. 256.
1930
Dülberg, Franz. Frans Hals: Ein Leben und ein Werk. Stuttgart, 1930: 194, 198, repro. 196.
1931
Paintings in the Collection of Joseph Widener at Lynnewood Hall. Intro. by Wilhelm Valentiner. Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1931: 84, repro.
1932
Hind, Arthur M. Rembrandt: Being the Substance of the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures Delivered before Harvard University 1930-1931. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1932: xiv, 89, pl. 64.
1935
Tietze, Hans. Meisterwerke europäischer Malerei in Amerika. Vienna, 1935: 336, no. 166, repro. 164.
1936
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Frans Hals Paintings in America. Westport, Connecticut, 1936: no. 97, repro.
1938
Waldmann, Emil. "Die Sammlung Widener." Pantheon 22 (November 1938): 341.
1939
Tietze, Hans. Masterpieces of European Painting in America. New York, 1939: no. 166, repro. 164.
1942
National Gallery of Art. Works of art from the Widener collection. Washington, 1942: 5.
1948
National Gallery of Art. Paintings and Sculpture from the Widener Collection. Washington, 1948 (reprinted 1959): 50, repro.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.. New York, 1963: 312, repro.
1965
National Gallery of Art. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. Washington, 1965: 66.
1968
European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1968: 58, no. 625, repro.
1970
Slive, Seymour. Frans Hals. 3 vols. National Gallery of Art Kress Foundation Studies in the History of European Art. London, 1970–1974: 2(1970):pl. 302; 3(1974):88, 99, no. 191.
1972
Grimm, Claus. Frans Hals: Entwicklung, Werkanalyse, Gesamtkatolog. Berlin, 1972: 110-111, 155, 205, no. 145, figs. 163, 167.
1974
Montagni, E. C. L’opera completa di Frans Hals. Classici dell’Arte. Milan, 1974: 106, no. 183, repro.
1975
National Gallery of Art. European paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. Washington, 1975: 170, repro.
1975
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 268-269, no. 355, color repro.
1976
Montagni, E. C. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Frans Hals. Les classiques de l'art. Translated by Simone Darses. Paris, 1976: no. 183, repro.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 268, no. 349, color repro.
1985
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. Washington, 1985:197, repro.
1986
Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids and Kampen, 1986: 309.
1989
Slive, Seymour. Frans Hals. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington; Royal Academy of Arts, London; Frans Halsmuseum, Haarlem. London, 1989: 328-330, no. 71, repro.
1990
Grimm, Claus. Frans Hals: The Complete Work. Translated by Jürgen Riehle. New York, 1990: 189, fig. 69, 194-195, 289, no. 135.
1995
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1995: 89-91, color repro. 90.
1997
Chrysler Museum of Art. Rembrandt and the Golden Age: Dutch paintings from the National Gallery of Art. Exhibition brochure. Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk. Washington, 1997: unnumbered repro.

Conservation Notes

The original support is a loosely woven, plain-weave fabric of medium weight, with the original tacking margins trimmed. A nonoriginal 2.5-centimeter-wide fabric strip was attached to the top edge at an unknown date. Prior to the attachment of the extension, approximately 2.5 centimeters of the painting surface along all four sides was turned over the stretcher edges to form a tacking margin. Regularly spaced damages, presumably former tacking holes, are visible in the X-radiographs along all four edges. Prior to acquisition, the painted edges were restored to the picture plane and the original support and extension were lined. Slight cusping is visible along the top, bottom, and left sides, but absent on the right.

A thin, smooth, white ground layer is visible through the thinly painted background. Fluid paint was applied over thin washes in distinct brushstrokes blended wet-into-wet. Several pentimenti are visible. The hat was reworked several times to a narrower form, and the proper right index finger was raised and repositioned. The upper edge of the proper right shoulder, arm, and collar were initially higher. Light highlights in the sitter’s proper left shoulder were also painted out by the artist.

In addition to the edge damages, small- to moderate-sized losses of paint and ground are scattered throughout the costume, background, and proper right hand. The thin background and dark costume are extensively abraded, with slight abrasion to the face. Conservation treatment was carried out in 1984–1985 to remove later repaints and a discolored varnish.

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