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. Even though the young man’s turned pose and the artist’s extremely free brushwork have a genrelike quality, this small panel may very well be a portrait of Hals’ teenage son Harmen, whose appearance later in life is known from a drawing in the Haarlem archives.

Hals frequently used an illusionistic oval framing device for small-scale portraits he painted in the 1610s and 1620s. Although some of these small portraits served as modelli for engraved portraits, no print related to this image seems to have been made. The close-up composition and informal pose allowed Hals to reinforce the dynamic, three-dimensionality of the young man, whose elbow projects beyond the painted picture frame into the viewer’s space.

Inscription

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Marks and Labels

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Provenance

C.J.G. Bredius, Woerden, by 1918.[1] (M. Knoedler & Co., New York and Paris); sold 30 January 1929 to Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington; deeded 28 June 1937 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1940 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1919
Loan for display with permanent collection, Mauritshuis, The Hague, 1919.
1989
Frans Hals, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Royal Academy of Arts, London; Frans Halsmuseum, Haarlem, 1989-1990, no. 39 (cat. by Seymour Slive).
1995
Adriaen Brouwer: Youth Making a Face, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1995-1996, not in brochure.
1998
A Collector's Cabinet, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1998, no. 24.
2009
Judith Leyster, 1609-1660, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 2009, unnumbered brochure, fig. 6.

Bibliography

1918
Schneider, Hans. "Ein neues Bild von Frans Hals." Kunstchronik und Kunstmarkt 30 (1918–1919): 368–369, repro.
1921
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Frans Hals: des meisters Gemälde in 318 Abbildungen. Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 28. Stuttgart and Berlin, 1921: 309, repro. 50.
1921
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Rembrandt: wiedergefundene Gemälde (1910-1922). Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben 27. Stuttgart and Berlin, 1921: 309, repro. 50.
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: 309, repro. 51.
1930
Dülberg, Franz. Franz Hals: Ein Leben und ein Werk. Stuttgart, 1930: 94, 95, 219, repro.
1936
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Frans Hals Paintings in America. Westport, Connecticut, 1936: no. 16, repro.
1941
National Gallery of Art. Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. Washington, 1941: 96.
1941
Trivas, Numa S. The Paintings of Frans Hals. New York, 1941: 31-32, no. 23, pl. 36.
1942
National Gallery of Art. Book of illustrations. 2nd ed. Washington, 1942: no. 498, repro. 26, 249.
1949
Paintings and Sculpture from the Mellon Collection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1949 (reprinted 1953 and 1958): 75, repro.
1965
National Gallery of Art. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. Washington, 1965: 65.
1968
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 58, no. 498, 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. 110, 3(1974):41-42, no. 66.
1972
Grimm, Claus. Frans Hals: Entwicklung, Werkanalyse, Gesamtkatolog. Berlin, 1972: 27, 80, 201, no. 42.
1974
Montagni, E.C. L’opera completa di Frans Hals. Classici dell’Arte. Milan, 1974: 94-95, no. 67, 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. 354, repro.
1976
Montagni, E.C. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Frans Hals. Translated by Simone Darses. Les classiques de l'art. Paris, 1976: no. 67, repro.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 268, no. 348, color repro.
1985
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. Washington, 1985: 197, repro.
1989
Slive, Seymour. Frans Hals. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington; Royal Academy of Arts, London; Frans Halsmuseum, Haarlem. London, 1989: 244, no. 39, repro.
1990
Grimm, Claus. Frans Hals: The Complete Work. Translated by Jürgen Riehle. New York, 1990: 277, no. 48, 234-235, fig. 123b.
1995
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1995: 66-68, color repro. 67.
1998
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. A Collector's Cabinet. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1998: 66, no. 24.
2009
Hofrichter, Frima Fox. Judith Leyster (1609-1660). Exh. brochure. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 2009: 4, fig. 6.

Conservation Notes

The original support is a single oak panel with a vertical grain set into a 0.5–centimeter-wide collar of oak that does not appear to be original. Dendrochronology dates the panel to an earliest felling date of 1625, with an estimated date for use of 1629.[1] Both panel and protective collar are beveled along all four edges on the back. A check at the top right corner is the only damage to the support. The ground is a thick white layer that leaves the grain pattern visible and extends to the edge of the original panel in all areas save the lower right corner.

Paint is applied thinly in quick fluid strokes with rounded ends. Highlights are applied thickly, worked wet-into-wet in the thin underlayers. The sketchy nature of the painting is enhanced by some intentional rubbing in of thin paint layers. The painting is in excellent condition, with scattered small losses discretely inpainted. An aged but only slightly discolored varnish layer is present. No major conservation treatment has been carried out since acquisition.

 

[1] Dendrochronology by Dr. Peter Klein, Ordinariat für Holzbiologie, Universität Hamburg (see report in NGA Conservation department files dated May 1, 1987).

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