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 depicted his colleague the artist Adriaen van Ostade (1610–1685) as a refined gentleman wearing fashionable apparel, including the gloves that were an essential accessory of the social elite in this period. Van Ostade holds his right glove in his left hand, and his casual pose adds to the lifelike character of the portrait, further reinforced by the extraordinary abstract brushwork.

Prior to entering Haarlem’s Saint Luke’s Guild in 1634, Van Ostade had probably been Hals’ pupil. He specialized in scenes of peasant life, such as The Cottage Dooryard in the National Gallery’s collection. In 1647 Van Ostade was elected to serve as one of the headmen of the Saint Luke’s Guild, so he may have commissioned Hals to paint his portrait to commemorate this high point in his career.

Inscription

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Marks and Labels

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Provenance

Buckston family, Sutton on the Hill, Derbyshire; (sale, Sotheby & Co., London, 5-6 May 1919, 2nd day, no. 285);[1] Brown, acting for (Thos. Agnew & Sons, Ltd., Arthur J. Sulley & Co., and Colnaghi & Co., London);[2] purchased 9 May 1919 by (M. Knoedler & Co., London and New York); sold 1 November 1919 to Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.;[3] deeded 28 December 1934 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1937 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1925
Paintings by Old Masters from Pittsburgh Collections, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, 1925, no. 24, as Nicholas Berghen [Berchem].

Bibliography

1925
Carnegie Institute. An Exhibition of Paintings by Old Masters from the Pittsburgh Collections. Exh. cat. Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, 1925: no. 24.
1935
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. "New Additions to the Work of Frans Hals." Art in America 23 (June 1935): 86-103, no. 21, fig. 2.
1936
Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Frans Hals Paintings in America. Westport, Connecticut, 1936: no. 100, repro.
1941
Preliminary Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941: 95, no. 70, as Portrait of a Man.
1942
National Gallery of Art. Book of illustrations. 2nd ed. Washington, 1942: no. 70, repro. 24, 240, as Portrait of a Man.
1949
National Gallery of Art. Paintings and Sculpture from the Mellon Collection. Washington, 1949 (reprinted 1953 and 1958): 79, repro.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963: 337, 312, repro., as Portrait of a Man.
1965
National Gallery of Art. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculpture. Washington, 1965: 65, as Portrait of a Man.
1968
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings and Sculpture, Illustrations. Washington, 1968: 58, repro., as Portrait of a Man.
1970
Grimm, Claus. "Ein meisterliches Künstlerporträt: Frans Hals’ Ostade-Bildnis." Oud Holland 85 (1970): 146-178, fig. 24.
1970
Slive, Seymour. Frans Hals. 3 vols. National Gallery of Art Kress Foundation Studies in the History of European Art. London, 1970–1974: 1(1970):190-191, fig. 203; 2(1970):fig. 303; 3(1974):78-79, 99-100, no. 192.
1971
Grimm, Claus. "Frans Hals und seine Schule." Münchner Jahrbuch der Bildenden Kunst 22 (1971): 146-178, fig. 24.
1972
Grimm, Claus. Frans Hals: Entwicklung, Werkanalyse, Gesamtkatolog. Berlin, 1972: 105-106, 204, no. 122, figs. 136-138, 142.
1974
Montagni, E. C. L’opera completa di Frans Hals. Classici dell’Arte. Milan, 1974: 105, no. 72, repro.
1975
National Gallery of Art. European paintings: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue. Washington, 1975: 170, repro., as Portrait of a Man.
1975
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 268-269, no. 356, repro.
1976
Montagni, E. C. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Frans Hals. Les classiques de l'art. Translated by Simone Darses. Paris, 1976: no. 72, repro.
1981
Baard, H. P. Frans Hals. New York, 1981: 138.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 268, no. 350, color repro.
1985
National Gallery of Art. European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. Washington, 1985: 196, repro.
1986
Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids and Kampen, 1986: 308-309.
1988
Middelkoop, Norbert, and Anne van Grevenstein. Frans Hals: Life, Work, Restoration. Translated by Rollin Cochrane. Gloucester, 1988: 72-73, repro.
1990
Grimm, Claus. Frans Hals: The Complete Work. Translated by Jürgen Riehle. New York, 1990: 46-49, fig. 40e, 256, fig. 104b, 287, no. 123, repro.
1995
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, 1995: 79-83, color repro. 81.
2007
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr., and Michael Swicklik. "Behind the Veil: Restoration of a Dutch Marine Painting Offers a New Look at Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art and History." National Gallery of Art Bulletin, no. 37 (Fall 2007): 2, 4, fig. 2.

Conservation Notes

The support, a fine-weight, plain-weave fabric, has been lined with the tacking margins trimmed. Cusping indicates no change in dimensions. Lining has reinforced the impression of the canvas texture in the paint surface. The smooth, white ground layer is visible through the transparent background paint, appearing light brown to the eye.

Paint is applied freely in thin layers defined by broad, distinct, sure brushstrokes. A dark layer was applied first to serve as a color for the background and an underpaint layer for the jacket, with reserves left for the face and hands. The face, collar, hands, and gloves were brought to a higher degree of finish in fuller bodied paint with brushwork blended wet-into-wet. X-radiographs show a minor adjustment to the right half of the collar, which was initially straighter. The entire collar may have been slightly smaller.

Two small losses are found above and below the mouth on the left side, along with scattered small losses in the lower half of the jacket. The black paint of the jacket is moderately abraded and a 3-centimeter section of hair to the left of the face is severely abraded. The painting was treated in 1990 to remove discolored varnish and inpainting.

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