Paulus Verschuur served seven terms as burgomaster of Rotterdam and was also a director of the East India Company. Despite Hals's reputation for conviviality, his mature portraits are often sober and restrained in all but their brushwork. This may have influenced Verschuur's choice of the artist over a fashionable portraitist of Rotterdam or The Hague, but the sitter also had family and business ties to Hals's city of Haarlem.
In this dignified portrait of 1643, Paulus Verschuur, a wealthy merchant of Rotterdam, is seen at the age of thirty-seven. His father, Joost Verschueren, moved from Antwerp to Rotterdam and established a textile firm. Paulus married Maria van Berckel (d. 1654) in 1631, and three years later combined his family business with the textile firm of his father-in-law, Gerard van Berckel. Verschuur was also very active in civic affairs, serving as a member of the Rotterdam City Council in 1642; as a burgomaster in 1649–50, 1653–54, 1660–61, and 1667; and as council deputy to the States of Holland in 1646, 1648–49, and on several later occasions. His other offices included church-warden (1646–48), commissioner of the East India Company (1651), commissioner for water rights (1656), and surveyor of manufactories (1658–59 and 1662–65).
The Rotterdam artist Pieter van der Werff (1661/65–1722) made a free copy (oval, 82 x 68 cm) after this picture in about 1700 as part of a series of paintings depicting the directors of the Rotterdam chamber of the Dutch East India Company. It is on loan to the Historisch Museum, Rotterdam, from the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (inv. A4501).
Valentiner (1921) believed that the figure's turn to the right implied a pendant portrait. This is entirely plausible, to judge from the compositions of other pair portraits by Hals. Grimm (1972) suggests the Portrait of a Woman (80 x 64.1 cm), formerly in an English private collection as a possible pendant, stating that it appears to have been cut down on all sides. In the absence of technical evidence or a portrait known to be of Maria van Berckel, it is impossible to support or dismiss Grimm's hypothesis.
[2011; adapted from Liedtke 2007]
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed (right center): ÆTAT SVÆ 37 / ANo 1643 / FH· [monogram]
Adolf Josef Bösch, Döbling, near Vienna (until d. 1884; his estate sale, Kaeser, Plach, and Kohlbacher, Döbling, April 28, 1885, no. 20, as "Männliches Portrait," for fl 14,010 to Kaiser); [Durand-Ruel, New York, in 1891]; Mrs. Collis P. (Arabella D.) Huntington, later [from 1913] Mrs. Henry E. Huntington, New York (by 1909–d. 1924); her son, Archer M. Huntington, New York (1924–26)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Hudson-Fulton Celebration," September–November 1909, no. 35 (as "Portrait of a Man," lent by Mrs. Collis P. Huntington, New York).
Detroit Institute of Arts. "Fifty Paintings by Frans Hals," January 10–February 28, 1935, no. 38 (as "Portrait of a Gentleman").
Los Angeles County Museum. "Loan Exhibition of Paintings by Frans Hals, Rembrandt," November 18–December 31, 1947, no. 15 (as "Portrait of a Gentleman").
Wilmington. Delaware Art Center. "Paintings by Dutch Masters of the Seventeenth Century," May 6–June 17, 1951, no. 14 (as "Portrait of a Man").
Raleigh. North Carolina Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Art," April 6–May 17, 1959, no. 63.
Portland, Oreg. Portland Art Museum. "75 Masterworks: An Exhibition of Paintings in Honor of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Portland Art Association," December 12, 1967–January 21, 1968, no. 11.
University Art Museum, University of California at Berkeley. "Dutch Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," November 25, 1969–January 4, 1970, checklist no. 5.
Houston. Rice University. "Dutch Masters from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 18–March 1, 1970, checklist no. 5.
Haarlem. Frans Halsmuseum. "Frans Hals," May 11–July 22, 1990, no. 56.
Athens. National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum. "From El Greco to Cézanne: Masterpieces of European Painting from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," December 13, 1992–April 11, 1993, no. 12.
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.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Frans Hals in the Metropolitan Museum," July 26–October 10, 2011, no catalogue.
"A Frans Hals Masterpiece." The Collector 2 (January 1, 1891), p. 54, as a portrait of an unknown man by Frans Hals, at Durand-Ruel.
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. 36, no. 35, ill. opp. p. 36.
E[rnst]. W[ilhelm]. Moes. Frans Hals, sa vie et son œuvre. Brussels, 1909, p. 106, no. 136.
Cornelis Hofstede de Groot. A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century. Ed. Edward G. Hawke. Vol. 3, London, 1910, p. 105, no. 360.
E[mil]. Waldmann. "Die Ausstellung Holländischer Gemälde des 17. Jahrhunderts in New York." Zeitschrift für bildende Kunst, n.s., 21, no. 4 (1910), ill. p. 78.
Kenyon Cox. "Dutch Pictures in The Hudson-Fulton Exhibition—II." Burlington Magazine 16 (January 1910), p. 245.
William Bode. "More Spurious Pictures Abroad Than in America." New York Times (December 31, 1911), p. SM4.
Theodor v. Frimmel. Lexikon der Wiener Gemäldesammlungen. Vol. 1, Buchstabe A bis F. Munich, 1913, p. 198.
Wilhelm von Bode, ed. Frans Hals: His Life and Work. Berlin, 1914, vol. 2, p. 22, no. 273, pl. 179.
Wilhelm R. Valentiner. Frans Hals, des meisters Gemälde. 2nd ed. Stuttgart, 1923, p. 319, ill. p. 208, believes that the position of the figure indicates that the work had a female pendant.
Bryson Burroughs. "Three Paintings in a Recent Gift." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 21 (July 1926), pp. 164, 166–67, ill.
W. R. Valentiner. Frans Hals Paintings in America. Westport, Conn., 1936, no. 74, ill. [cat. section unpaginated].
N. S. Trivas. The Paintings of Frans Hals. New York, 1941, p. 52, no. 85, pl. 115.
S[turla]. J. Gudlaugsson. "Een portret van Frans Hals geidentificeerd." Oud-Holland 69, no. 4 (1954), pp. 235–36, fig. 1, identifies the sitter as Paulus Verschuur, by means of a copy after the painting in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam; provides biographical information; suggests that Hals may have been introduced to Verschuur by a member of the Coymans family, prominent textile manufacturers in Haarlem.
"Notes on the Cover." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 14 (March 1956), inside front cover, ill. on cover (color).
Seymour Slive. "Frans Hals' Portrait of Joseph Coymans." Wadsworth Atheneum Bulletin (Winter 1958), pp. 13–14.
Jakob Rosenberg and Seymour Slive inDutch Art and Architecture: 1600 to 1800. Baltimore, 1966, p. 44, mistakenly assign it to the year 1642.
Pierre Descargues. Hals. Geneva, 1968, p. 111.
Calvin Tomkins. Merchants and Masterpieces: The Story of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1970, p. 172 [rev., enl. ed., 1989].
Seymour Slive. Frans Hals. Vol. 1, Text. London, 1970, pp. 153, 174, fig. 187 (detail).
Seymour Slive. Frans Hals. Vol. 2, Plates. London, 1970, pl. 247.
Claus Grimm. Frans Hals: Entwicklung, Werkanalyse, Gesamtkatalog. Berlin, 1972, pp. 105, 107, 204, no. 120, suggests that it may be the pendant to a portrait of a woman in a private collection in England (no. 121).
Jakob Rosenberg and Seymour Slive inDutch Art and Architecture: 1600 to 1800. rev. ed. Harmondsworth, England, 1972, p. 70.
Doriece Colle. Collars, Stocks, Cravats: A History and Costume Dating Guide to Civilian Men's Neckpieces, 1655–1900. Emmaus, Pa., 1972, ill. (frontispiece).
Seymour Slive. Frans Hals. Vol. 3, Catalogue. London, 1974, p. 75, no. 144.
E. C. Montagni inL'opera completa di Frans Hals. Milan, 1974, pp. 98, 103–4, no. 159, ill.
Peter C. Sutton. A Guide to Dutch Art in America. Grand Rapids, Mich., 1986, p. 185.
Seymour Slive inFrans Hals. Ed. Seymour Slive. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington. London, 1989, pp. 282, 292–94, no. 56, ill. (color).
Karin Groen and Ella Hendriks inFrans Hals. Ed. Seymour Slive. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington. London, 1989, pp. 115, 117, 125–27, pl. VIII, fig. f (color detail of paint cross-section).
Pieter Biesboer inFrans Hals. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington. London, 1989, p. 37.
Walter Liedtke. "Dutch Paintings in America: The Collectors and Their Ideals." Great Dutch Paintings from America. Exh. cat., Mauritshuis, The Hague. Zwolle, The Netherlands, 1990, p. 37.
Claus Grimm. Frans Hals: The Complete Work. New York, 1990, pp. 193, 242, 286, 291, no. 118, ill. p. 286 and colorpl. 44 [German ed., "Frans Hals: Das Gesamtwerk," Stuttgart, 1989, pp. 193, 242, 281, 285, no. 118, colorpl. 44].
Deborah Krohn et al. inFrom El Greco to Cézanne: Masterpieces of European Painting from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., National Gallery Alexandros Soutzos Museum. Athens, 1992, pp. 36–37, 306, no. 12, ill. (color) [catalogue section unpaginated].
Julia Lloyd Williams. Dutch Art and Scotland: A Reflection of Taste. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Scotland. [Edinburgh], 1992, p. 176, states that it was "perhaps owned by Lord Glenesk, Scotland".
Seymour Slive. Dutch Painting 1600–1800. New Haven, 1995, p. 49.
Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. Washington, 1995, pp. 80, 82 n. 10, fig. 3.
Esmée Quodbach. "The Age of Rembrandt: Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Summer 2007), pp. 23, 27–28, 70, figs. 25 (color), 27 (Hudson-Fulton gallery photograph).
Walter Liedtke. Dutch Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, vol. 1, pp. ix, 288–92, 294, no. 66, colorpl. 66, fig. 77.
Christopher D. M. Atkins. The Signature Style of Frans Hals: Painting, Subjectivity, and the Market in Early Modernity. Amsterdam, 2012, pp. 63–64, fig. 37 (color).