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Portrait of a Woman

Frans Hals (Dutch, Antwerp 1582/83–1666 Haarlem)

Date:
ca. 1650, reworked probably 18th century
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
39 3/8 x 32 1/4 in. (100 x 81.9 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Marquand Collection, Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1890
Accession Number:
91.26.10
  • Gallery Label

    The picture dates from about 1650 and originally had a neutral background, as in the Marquand "Portrait of a Man" (91.26.9). In the 1660s or later the work was modernized by repainting the background; the monumental architecture in particular is unsympathetic to the figure's friendly gaze and natural pose. The paint surface is worn and has been flattened by lining.

  • Catalogue Entry

    The composition, manner of execution, and the sitter's costume suggest that this colorful portrait by Hals dates from about 1650. The background, originally rendered in a neutral tone, was completely painted over at a later date, most likely during the eighteenth century. Except for the hair and cap, which are abraded, most areas of the figure reveal impressive brushwork, especially in the folded hands and upper portion of the skirt (the lower left part has been repainted).

    Much of the scholarly literature has focused on the question of whether the Portrait of a Painter of about 1650 (Frick Collection, New York) is a pendant to this work. In earlier decades the sitter in the Frick portrait was thought by some writers to be Hals himself, which may be dismissed on the grounds of appearance and age. No other plausible suggestion for the identity of either sitter has been made. It is likely, though not certain, that the two were intended as pendants. Although the informal poses found in both works have parallels in independent portraits by Hals, they complement each other well. The canvases are now almost identical in size; both have been slightly trimmed. The fact that at some later date, both were provided with architectural backgrounds, and that the monumental columns balance each other, suggests that they were together at some time. The earliest trace of the MMA portrait is in England during the 1790s, when it was evidently not accompanied by a pendant. The first record of the Frick picture is in England, in 1876.

    [2011; adapted from Liedtke 2007]

  • Provenance

    ?William Ponsonby, 2nd Earl of Bessborough, London, and Bessborough House, Roehampton (until d. 1793; his estate sale, Christie's, London, February 5–7, 1801, no. 50, as "A Lady's Portrait," for £12.1.6, ?bought in); ?the earls of Bessborough, Bessborough House (until 1847); John George Brabazon Ponsonby, 5th Earl of Bessborough, Bessborough House (until 1848; sold to Jarvis); Sir Lewis Jarvis, Middleton Towers, King's Lynn, Norfolk (1848–90; posthumous sale, Christie's, London, June 21, 1890, no. 35, as "Portrait of the Artist's Wife," for £1,837.10 to Colnaghi); [Martin Colnaghi, London, 1890; sold to Marquand]; Henry G. Marquand, New York (1890)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Temporary Exhibition," April 1906, no. 13.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Hudson-Fulton Celebration," September–November 1909, no. 40.

    Detroit Institute of Arts. "Thirty-Eight Great Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 2–October 28, 1951, no catalogue.

    Art Gallery of Toronto. "Thirty-Eight Great Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," November 14–December 12, 1951, no catalogue.

    City Art Museum of St. Louis. "Thirty-Eight Great Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 6–February 4, 1952, no catalogue.

    Seattle Art Museum. "Thirty-Eight Great Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," March 1–June 30, 1952, no catalogue.

    Milwaukee Auditorium. "Metropolitan Art Museum $1,000,000 Masterpiece Exhibition," March 7–14, 1953, unnumbered cat. (p. 10).

    Austin, Tex. City Coliseum. "Texas Fine Arts Festival: Metropolitan Museum $1,000,000 Collection of Old Masters," April 18–26, 1953, unnum. checklist.

    Little Rock. Arkansas Arts Center. "Five Centuries of European Painting," May 16–October 26, 1963, unnumbered cat. (p. 26).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 18, 2007–January 6, 2008, no catalogue.

  • References

    Charles H. Caffin. "Pictures at the Metropolitan Museum." Harper's Monthly Magazine 104 (January 1902), p. 274, calls it a portrait of the artist's wife.

    E[rnst]. W[ilhelm]. Moes. Frans Hals, sa vie et son œuvre. Brussels, 1909, p. 109, no. 205.

    Wilhelm R. Valentiner. The Hudson-Fulton Celebration: Catalogue of an Exhibition Held in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1909, vol. 1, p. 41, no. 40, ill. opp. p. 41, states that it is erroneously called a portrait of the artist's wife.

    Joseph Breck. "L'art hollandais à l'exposition Hudson-Fulton à New York." L'art flamand & hollandais 13, no. 2 (1910), p. 50 [published in Dutch in Onze Kunst 17 (January 1910), p. 7], calls it a pendant to the "Portrait of a Man" (MMA, 91.26.9).

    Kenyon Cox. "Dutch Pictures in The Hudson-Fulton Exhibition—II." Burlington Magazine 16 (January 1910), p. 245, dates it before 1650.

    Cornelis Hofstede de Groot. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. 3, London, 1910, p. 112, no. 387, concurs that the identification as the artist's wife is incorrect.

    E[mil]. Waldmann. "Die Ausstellung Holländischer Gemälde des 17. Jahrhunderts in New York." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, n.s., 21, no. 4 (1910), p. 78.

    Joséphin Péladan. Frans Hals, 1580(?)–1666. Paris, 1912, ill. opp. p. 68.

    Frans Hals, His Life and Work. Berlin, 1914, vol. 2, p. 9, no. 175, pl. 107.

    Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Frans Hals, des meisters Gemälde. 2nd ed. Stuttgart, 1923, pp. XII–XIII, 314–15, ill. p. 127, dates it about 1635 and calls it a portrait of the artist's wife, a pendant to the portrait of an artist in the Frick Collection, New York, presumably a self-portrait; notes that the background treatment is derived from Flemish painting, particularly Van Dyck.

    W. R. Valentiner. "The Self Portraits of Frans Hals." Art in America 13 (April 1925), pp. 153–54, again calls it the pendant to the Frick portrait and identifies the sitters as Hals and his wife, but dates the two works about 1645.

    Franz Dülberg. Frans Hals: Ein Leben und ein Werk. Stuttgart, 1930, p. 117, pl. 45, calls it a pendant to the Frick painting and tentatively identifies the sitter as Hals's wife; dates it about 1635.

    W. R. Valentiner. "New Additions to the Work of Frans Hals." Art in America 23 (June 1935), p. 95.

    W. R. Valentiner. Frans Hals Paintings in America. Westport, Conn., 1936, no. 84, ill. [cat. section unpaginated], calls it "Lisbeth Reyniers, the Wife of the Artist" and dates it about 1645.

    N. S. Trivas. The Paintings of Frans Hals. New York, 1941, pp. 56–57, no. 98, pl. 129, dates it about 1650; calls it a pendant to the Frick picture and tentatively identifies the sitters as Hals and his wife.

    Millia Davenport. The Book of Costume. New York, 1948, vol. 2, p. 618, no. 1642, ill.

    Dirk Vis. Rembrandt en Geertje Dircx. Haarlem, 1965, pp. 9, 11, 82–91, 107–10, pl. 3, calls it the pendant to the Frick portrait and identifies the sitters of the two works as Rembrandt and Geertje Dircx, who lived together as husband and wife during the 1640s; dates the two pictures 1643.

    R. W. Scheller. "Review of Ref. Vis 1965." Oud Holland 81, no. 2 (1966), pp. 117–18, rejects the identification of the sitter as Geertje Dircx.

    Bernice Davidson. "Paintings: American, British, Dutch, Flemish and German." The Frick Collection: An Illustrated Catalogue. 1, New York, 1968, pp. 215–16, finds the identification of the sitter as either Lysbeth Reyniers or Geertje Dircx unconvincing, and rejects the idea that the MMA and Frick paintings are pendants.

    Seymour Slive. "Text." Frans Hals. 1, London, 1970, pp. 159, 184–85, calls it the pendant to the Frick painting and refers to the background as an "architectural mishmash . . . added by another hand".

    Seymour Slive. "Plates." Frans Hals. 2, London, 1970, pls. 289, 296 (detail).

    Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, pp. 74, 172 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].

    Claus Grimm. Frans Hals: Entwicklung, Werkanalyse, Gesamtkatalog. Berlin, 1972, pp. 26–28, 109, 205, no. 141, fig. 154, dates it 1648–50.

    Letters of Roger Fry. New York, 1972, vol. 1, p. 255 n. 1 to letter no. 177 (March 2, 1906), lists it among works included in the 1906 exhibition.

    E. C. Montagni in L'opera completa di Frans Hals. Milan, 1974, p. 106, no. 179, ill. p. 105, dates it about 1650.

    Seymour Slive. "Catalogue." Frans Hals. 3, London, 1974, p. 97, no. 187, dates it about 1650–52 and considers it possibly the pendant to the Frick painting; rejects the identification of the sitter as either Lysbeth Reyniers or Geertje Dircx.

    Claus Grimm. Frans Hals: The Complete Work. New York, 1990, p. 292 [German ed., "Frans Hals: Das Gesamtwerk," Stuttgart, 1989, p. 285], calls it a product of Hals's workshop, "stylistically close to the anonymous Master of the Fisherboy".

    S. A. C. Dudok van Heel in "Rembrandt: His Life, His Wife, the Nursemaid and the Servant." Rembrandt's Women. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Scotland. Edinburgh, 2001, p. 246 n. 47.

    Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. ix, 295–98, no. 68, colorpl. 68, fig. 80.

    Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 12, 14, 28, 70, fig. 10 (print of Marquand gallery).



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