THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR
Count Konstanty Branicki, Paris, 1882;
Count Xavier Branicki, Paris;
His nephew, Count Xavier Rey;
Countess Rey, Chateau de Montrésor, Indre-et-Loire, France;
By whom offered, London, Sotheby’s, 26 March 1969, lot 86, unsold;
Count Raszynski (father-in-law of Count Xavier Rey), London, 1972;
Gerald and Linda Guterman, Park Avenue, New York, by whom acquired in 1984;
Their sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 14 January 1988, lot 18;
Acquired by the present owner then or shortly afterwards.
Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Frans Hals und Haarlems Meister der Goldenen Zeit, 13th February – 7th June 2009, no. 72.
W. von Bode & E.J. Binder, Frans Hals, sein Leben und seine Werke, Berlin 1914, no. 205;
C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné…, vol. III, London 1910, p. 91, no. 319;
W.R. Valentiner, Frans Hals. Des Meisters Gemälde (Klassiker der Kunst, vol. 28), 2nd ed., Berlin & Leipzig 1923, pp. 200, 318, reproduced p. 200 (as possibly a pendant to the Woman holding a Fan in the National Gallery, London);
F. Dülberg, Frans Hals. Ein Leben und ein Werk, Stuttgart 1930, p. 166, as circa 1643;
N. MacLaren, National Gallery Catalogues. The Dutch School, London 1960, p. 148, under no. 2529 (rejecting Valentiner's suggestion that the National Gallery picture is its pendant);
C. Grimm, 'Frans Hals und seine “Schule,”’ in Münchner Jahrbuch der bildenden Kunst, vol. XXII, 1971, pp. 146-178 (as Johannes Hals);
S. Slive, Frans Hals, vol. 3, Catalogue, London 1974, p. 148, no. D 56, reproduced fig. 177 (as perhaps a copy of a lost original of the first half of the 1640s);
C. Grimm, L’opera completa di Frans Hals, Milan 1974, p. 107, no. 185, reproduced p. 106 (as circa 1650-1);
C. Grimm & T. Brachert, in Maltechnik, July 1975, pp. 150-1, reproduced figs. 2 & 4;
S. Slive, Frans Hals, exhibition catalogue, Munich 1989, p. 282, under no. 53, n1 (as by Frans Hals);
C. Grimm, Frans Hals. Das Gesamtwerk, Stuttgart & Zurich 1989, pp. 24, 193-4, 281, no. 125, reproduced in colour plates 45 & 68 (detail), (as circa 1644);
C. Grimm, Frans Hals. The Complete Work, New York 1990 (English ed. of the above), pp. 24, 193-4, 287, no. 125, reproduced in colour plates 45, 68 (detail), (as circa 1644);
P. Biesboer, De Gouden Eeuw begint in Haarlem, exhibition catalogue, Rotterdam 2008, p. 104, no. 72, reproduced in colour p. 105, (as circa 1638);
P. Biesboer, Frans Hals und Haarlems Meister der Goldenen Zeit, exhibition catalogue, Munich 2008, p. 104, no. 72, reproduced in colour p. 105, (as circa 1638 (text) and circa 1635/8 (illustration caption)).
Much has been written about Frans Hals’ bravura brushwork, which is the overriding hallmark of his style. Hals was able to create an impression of richness and density of texture with a remarkable economy of brushstrokes, and although we do not in fact know how quickly he painted, his brushwork conveys a forceful impression of speed of execution, without hesitation or revision. The present sitter’s right hand, for example, which vanishes beneath his coat, is mostly formed of a single thick stroke of the brush.
Following cleaning, Grimm’s initial view was that this painting dates from around 1650-51, but subsequently both Grimm and Slive (see below) have arrived at a consensus that it should be dated around or just before the mid-1640s. This would make it approximately coeval with the three-quarter length portraits of Paulus Verschuur, dated 1643, in New York, and Adriaen van Ostade of circa 1644 in Washington, and the bust-length portrait of Willem Coymans, dated 1645, also in Washington.1 More recently, Pieter Biesboer has broken with this consensus, proposing an earlier dating of around 1638 or before.2 He compares it with the half-length portrait of Claes Duyst in New York, of circa 1635-8. Duyst wears a similar elaborate lace collar, and the detailed photograph of his face published by Grimm (and indeed the detail of the oval portrait of an unidentified man of circa 1638 in Frankfurt) does lend support to his argument.3 Biesboer further suggests that a portrait of an unidentied woman in Berlin on a canvas of approximately similar dimensions, also dated circa 1635-8, may be a pendant to the present work, although the proportions and mise-en-page of the Berlin painting are quite different, and she has a pendant, also in Berlin.4 Support for Biesboer's dating can be found in the costume of the sitter. Marieke de Winkel has kindly pointed out that the deep scalloping of the Flemish bobbin lace collar is typical of the years 1635-8, and its patterning much less dense than its usage in circa 1640 and later.5
On the basis of old photographs, both of the great late 20th Century scholars of Frans Hals, Claus Grimm and Seymour Slive, had at one time rejected the attribution to Hals of this work: Grimm relegating it to Johannes Hals, and Slive seeing it as probably a copy of a lost work of the first half of the 1640s.6 Following careful cleaning by Thomas Brachert in Zurich in 1973-4, which removed much accumulated over-paint and revealed the true pictorial quality of the work, Claus Grimm, who had arranged for the work to be done, recognised Hals’ authorship straightaway. Seymour Slive did not have the opportunity to examine the painting in the original until September 1984, when he was able to study it at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He immediately confirmed in a letter dated 1 October 1984 (which he has given permission for us to quote) that in his view it is “an original work by Frans Hals painted in the early or mid-1640s", and he repeated in print his view that it is autograph in 1989.7 All scholars now accept the work as autograph, and all scholars other than Biesboer date it to the early to mid-1640s
This picture will be included in Claus Grimm's forthcoming revised and expanded catalogue raisonné of Frans Hals' work as no. A1-114, datable 1645-6.
1. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. 26.101.11; see W. Liedtke, Dutch Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New Haven & London 2007, vol. I, pp. 288-292, no. 66, reproduced in colour; Washington, National Gallery of Art, inv. 1937.1.70 & 1937.1.71; see A.K. Wheelock, Jr., Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century, New York & Oxford 1995, pp. 79-85, nos. 70 & 71, both reproduced in colour; see also Slive under Literature, vol. 3, p. 75, no. 144, reproduced vol. 2, plate 247 (New York), vol. 3, pp. 78-9, 99-100, no. 192, reproduced vol. 2, plate. 303, vol. 3, pp. 86-7, no. 167, reproduced vol. 2, plate 256 (Washington); see also Grimm under Literature, 1990, pp. 286-8, nos. 118, 123, 127, all reproduced.
2. See Biesboer under Literature, 2009, p. 104.
3. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, inv. 49.7.33; see Liedtke, op. cit., pp. 285-8, no. 65, reproduced in colour; see also Slive, op. cit., vol. 3, pp. 63-4, no. 119, reproduced vol. 2, plates 195, 197; Grimm, op. cit., 1990, pp. 282, 284, nos. 81, 97, reproduced, reproduced colour plates 59 & 60b.
4. Berlin, SMPK, Gemäldegalerie; see Slive, op. cit., vol. 3, p. 53, nos. 89 & 90, reproduced vol. 2, plates 150 & 151; see also Grimm, op. cit., 1990, p. 281, no. 78.
5. Email dated 28th October 2013. Dr De Winkel discussed a pair of Frans Hals portraits of circa 1638, in which the man wears an almost identical costume to the rpesent sitter: M. de Winkel, in Face Book. Studies on Dutch and Flemish Portraiture of the 16th-18th Centuries (Liber Amicorum for Rudolf E.O. Ekkart), Leiden 2012, pp. 141-150, figs. 4 & 5.
6. See under Literature, Grimm, 1971, and Slive, 1974.
7. Letter to Gerald Guterman dated 1st October 1984. A photocopy is available upon request. Professor Slive gave his permission for his letter to be quoted in an email dated 14th October 2013. See also Slive under Literature, 1989.
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