Born in Boras, Sweden, Hall worked in the Stockholm studio of the pastelist Gustaf Lundberg (1695–1786) from 1760 until 1766. He then settled in Paris, where he soon became the leading miniaturist and first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1769. Hall left for Belgium in 1791 and died in Liège in 1793. In his mature work he exploited to the full the possibilities opened up by Rosalba Carriera's introduction of ivory as a ground; his miniatures are also marked by freedom of brushwork, breadth of handling, and a subtle balance between transparent and opaque pigments. There is a fine collection of works by Hall in the Musée du Louvre, Paris.
Some doubts have been cast on the authenticity of this miniature. Leo R. Schidlof (unpublished opinion of 1952 in Department of European Paintings files) and Pierrette Jean-Richard (1995) accepted it as a work by Hall. Edwin Boucher (unpublished opinion of 1977) and Bodo Hofstetter (1995) pronounced it a fake, and Hermione Waterfield (unpublished opinion of 1978) called it a work by a pupil or a copy. However it seems to be an authentic signed work by the artist, and it has not been possible to establish clear evidence of retouching. It was painted about 1790, late in Hall's life, when most of his output consisted of decorative portraits of beautiful women.
[2016; adapted from Reynolds and Baetjer 1996]
Inscription: Signed (left, in black): hall.
Collis P. Huntington, New York (until d. 1900; life interest to his widow, Arabella D. Huntington, later [from 1913] Mrs. Henry E. Huntington, 1900–d. 1924; life interest to their son, Archer Milton Huntington, 1924–terminated in 1926)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "European Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," November 5, 1996–January 5, 1997, no. 48.
Bodo Hofstetter. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. June 19, 1995, calls it a late-nineteenth-century pastiche.
Pierrette Jean-Richard. Letter. June 12, 1995, accepts the attribution to Hall.
Graham Reynolds with the assistance of Katharine Baetjer. European Miniatures in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1996, pp. 92–93, 114, no. 48, ill., state that it seems to be a work by Hall of about 1790.