Portrait of a Bearded Man with a Ruff

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

Oil on canvas
30 x 25 in. (76.2 x 63.5 cm)
Credit Line:
The Jules Bache Collection, 1949
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    As the original inscription indicates, the sitter was thirty-six when portrayed by Hals. The portrait's immediacy is enhanced by vivid brushwork, strong modeling, and a glance and heartfelt gesture which respond to the viewer. The oval framing device was adapted from Dutch portrait engravings but is more illusionistic than in almost any print.

  • Catalogue Entry

    As the original inscription indicates, the unidentified sitter was thirty-six years old when Hals painted his likeness, in 1625.

    The illusionistic oval frame, the diagonal recession of the figure, and the conspicuous gesture are devices that appear frequently in Hals's portraits from the mid-1620s onward. Also typical of his work during this period is the bright illumination of the head and hand.

    The man's gesture—placing his hand on his heart—suggests sincerity, as explained by John Bulwer in his Chirologia: or the naturall language of the hand of 1644.

    [2011; adapted from Liedtke 2007]

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Dated and inscribed (right): ÆTAT 36 / ANo 1625

  • Provenance

    Julia, Countess of Dartrey, London; [A. H. Buttery, London, in 1923]; [Barbizon House, London, until 1925]; [Julius Böhler, Munich, 1925; sold half share to Kleinberger]; [Julius Böhler, Munich, and Kleinberger, Paris and New York, 1925–26; sold to Lucerne Fine Art]; [Lucerne Fine Art Co. Ltd., 1926]; Gaston Neumans, Brussels (1926; sold for $121,176.25 to Bache); Jules S. Bache, New York (1926–d. 1944; his estate, 1944–49; cats., 1937, no. 35; 1944, no. 34)

  • Exhibition History

    Detroit Institute of Arts. "Fifty Paintings by Frans Hals," January 10–February 28, 1935, no. 3 (lent by Jules S. Bache, New York).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Bache Collection," June 16–September 30, 1943, no. 34.

    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

    Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Frans Hals, des meisters Gemälde. 2nd ed. Stuttgart, 1923, p. IX, mentions it in the foreword as an excellent, newly discovered male portrait dated 1625 at A. H. Buttery, London.

    F. Kleinberger Galleries, Inc. New York, 1925, unpaginated, no. 22, ill., as from the collection of the countess of Dartrey.

    D. Croal Thomson. Barbizon House, 1925. London, 1925, unpaginated, no. 41, ill.

    W. R. Valentiner. "Rediscovered Paintings by Frans Hals." Art in America 16 (October 1928), p. 247, fig. 1, as in the collection of Jules Bache, New York.

    W. R. Valentiner. "New Additions to the Work of Frans Hals." Art in America 23 (June 1935), p. 101.

    W. R. Valentiner. An Exhibition of Fifty Paintings by Frans Hals. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1935, unpaginated, no. 3, ill.

    W. R. Valentiner. Frans Hals Paintings in America. Westport, Conn., 1936, pp. 8–9, no. 13, ill. [cat. section unpaginated], sees the influence of Rubens; notes that Hals uses the same position of the hand in several portraits of about this date, including that of Anna van der Aar (MMA, 29.100.9).

    A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. under revision. New York, 1937, unpaginated, no. 35, ill.

    N. S. Trivas. The Paintings of Frans Hals. New York, 1941, p. 30, no. 17, pl. 29.

    A Catalogue of Paintings in the Bache Collection. rev. ed. New York, 1943, unpaginated, no. 34, ill.

    Seymour Slive. "Plates." Frans Hals. 2, London, 1970, pls. 66, 70 (overall and detail).

    Claus Grimm. Frans Hals: Entwicklung, Werkanalyse, Gesamtkatalog. Berlin, 1972, pp. 20–21, 87, 202, no. 55, dates it 1628–32, finding evidence of overpainting and later additions, including the oval frame.

    E. C. Montagni in L'opera completa di Frans Hals. Milan, 1974, pp. 90–91, no. 37, ill.

    Seymour Slive. "Catalogue." Frans Hals. 3, London, 1974, p. 22, no. 34, adds Carl Thomson ca. 1923 to the provenance, based on information at the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague [possibly David Croal Thomson of Barbizon House; see Ref. Thomson 1925].

    Karin Groen and Ella Hendriks in Frans Hals. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington. London, 1989, pp. 117, 124.

    Claus Grimm. Frans Hals: The Complete Work. New York, 1990, pp. 18, 178, 273, 291, no. 20, fig. 7 [German ed., "Frans Hals: Das Gesamtwerk," Stuttgart, 1989, pp. 18, 178, 272, 284, no. 20, fig. 7], apparently accepts the date of 1625, and states that "the restoration of 1973–74 revealed the presence of Hals's hand in the execution of the head, collar, and hand".

    Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. ix, 171 n. 7, pp. 272–74, no. 62, colorpl. 62; vol. 2, p. 904.

    Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), p. 70.