E.W. Moes, Iconographia Batava, Amsterdam 1897-1905, no. 149-1;
M. Conway, "Sir William van Hoorne's Collection at Montreal", in The Connoisseur, vol. XII, 1905, p. 140, reproduced p. 137;
E.W. Moes, Frans Hals, sa vie et son oeuvre, trans. J. de Boschere, Brussels 1909, no. 12 (as dated 1630);
C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné..., vol. III, London 1910, pp. 48-9, no. 151 (as dated 1630);
W. von Bode & M.J. Binder, Frans Hals. His Life and Work, (trans. M.W. Brockwell), Berlin 1914, p. 128 (as dated 1630);
W.R. Valentiner, Frans Hals. Des Meisters Gemälde (Klassiker der Kunst), Berlin & Leipzig 1923, pp. 82 and 312, reproduced p. 82 (as dated 1630);
W.R. Valentiner, Frans Hals Paintings in America, Westport (Conn.) 1936, p. 43 (as dated 1630);
R.H. Hubbard, European Paintings in Canadian collections: Earlier Schools, Toronto 1956, p. 151;
S. Slive, Frans Hals, vol. 1, New York & London 1970, pp. 5-7, 125 and 140; vol. 3, Catalogue, New York & London 1974, p. 7 (under no. 8) and p. 46, no. 76, reproduced vol. 2, plate 139;
C. Grimm, Frans Hals: Entwicklung, Werkanalyse, Gesamtkatalog, Berlin 1972, no. A18b (as a copy, dated 1630);
C. Grimm & E.C. Montagni, L'opera completa di Frans Hals, Milan 1974, pp. 95-6, no. 73 (as perhaps done in Hals' studio, with final touches by the artist, and as dated 1630); also the French ed.: Tout l'oeuvre peint de Frans Hals, Paris 1976 (trans. S. Darses), no. 73;
P.J.J. van Thiel, "De betekenis van het portret van Verdonck door Frans Hals: De Ikonografie van het kakebeen", in Oud Holland, vol. XCIV, 1980, p. 118 (as by Hals and cited as the type of modello used by Jan van de Velde II for engravings after the artist's small paintings);
E. Haverkamp Begemann (ed.), Small Paintings of the Masters: Masterpieces Reproduced in Actual Size, Redding (Conn.) 1980, vol. 2, no. 114 (with wrong year of Van de Velde's print);
F. Duparc, Masterpieces of the Dutch Golden Age, exhibition catalogue, Atlanta 1985, p. 71, no. 29;
A. Jensen Adams, Dutch and Flemish Paintings from New York Private Collections, exhibition catalogue, New York 1988, p. 73, no. 24, reproduced in colour p. 57;
C. Grimm, Frans Hals. Das Gesamtwerk, Stuttgart & Zurich 1989, p. 34 (as a copy); also the English ed.: Frans Hals. The Complete Work, New York 1990, pp. 34 and 36;
S. Slive, Frans Hals, exhibition catalogue, Washington, National Gallery of Art, 1 October - 31 December 1989, London, Royal Academy of Arts, 13 January - 8 April 1990, Haarlem, Frans Halsmuseum, 11 May - 22 July 1990, pp. 246-7, cat. no. 40, reproduced in colour;
A. Connor, Copper on Canvas, exhibition catalogue, Phoenix Art Museum, 19 December 1998-28 February 1999, Kansas City, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 28 March -14 June 1999,
The Hague, Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis, 26 June-22 August 1999, pp. 202-204, no. 25, reproduced in colour
By Jonas Suyderhoef (1613-1686), in reverse, the legend giving the sitter's age as 40: AETAT 40/F. Hals pinxit/ I Suijderhoef Sculp. Hollstein no. 59.
By Jan van de Velde II (1619/20-1662), in reverse, the legend giving the sitter's age as 41: aetats 41/ao 1632... F.H. pinx, and with Jan van de Velde's monogram.
Samuel Ampzing (1590-1632) of Haarlem was a clergyman and poet, and also an historian of and propagandist for his native city. As a famous Haarlemmer, it was hardly surprising that he should have wished Frans Hals to paint his portrait, but there are more compelling reasons why Hals would wish to do so: Ampzing lavished praise on Hals and his brother in his history in verse of the city - as much an encomium of the present day as a record of the past - entitled Beschryvinge ende lof der stad Haerlem in Holland:
Komt Halsen, komt dan voord,
Beslaet hier mee een plaetz, die u met recht behoord.
Hoe wacker schildered Frans de luyden near het leven!
Wat suyv're beeldekens weet Dirck ons niet te geven!
Gebroeders in de konst, gebroeders in het bloed,
Van eener konsten-min en moeder opgevoed.1
("Come Halses, come forth
Take here a seat, yours it is by right.
How dashingly Frans paints people from life!
How neat the little figures Dirck gives us!
Brothers in art, brothers in blood.
Nurtured by the same love of art, by the same mother"2)
This was published in 1628. It was by no means the first history of Haarlem by Ampzing, but it was the first to mention, let alone praise, Frans Hals, and it shows how fast the appreciation of the modern was changing in Haarlem - in an earlier history published in 1616, only painters of a preceding generation: those rooted in the traditions of the late 16th century; are praised. The same is true of a subsequent edition of 1621, but a larger list of more modern painters, including the Hals family, is appended.
It is not known for certain when the present portrait was painted, but in the light of Ampzing's verse the date of 1630 with which it has traditionally been thought to be inscribed is highly plausible. It is unlikely to date from much later, since Ampzing died in 1632. Furthermore, this portrait was engraved in reverse by Jonas Suyderhoef with the legend AETAT.40, indicating that it depicts Ampzing at the age of 40, thus in 1630 (see fig. 1). The engraving is almost twice the size of the present painting, and it is likely that the engraver had an intermediate drawing made in preparation. Jan van de Velde the Younger's engraving in reverse after this portrait is dated 1632, but is thought to post-date Ampzing's death. It is much smaller than Suyderhoef's print, being slightly smaller than the painting.
Hals probably had the engraving in mind when he made this little portrait, but it displays all the characteristics that Ampzing praised in a portrait painted from life, and painted dashingly.3 It was clearly painted swiftly, and with scant evidence of any hesitation. Hals shows Ampzing holding a small book with his forefinger inserted into it as if marking a particular page. This device, which gives movement to an otherwise static portrait, emphasizes that Ampzing was a scholar, and it gives us the impression that he was interrupted from his reading to have his portrait painted - underscoring the swiftness of Hals' brush as well as the intellectual energy of the sitter. Ampzing himself proclaims that Hals painted directly from life - naer het leven in the well-known Dutch phrase - and Hals lives up to this description by painting his acquaintance and admirer with immediacy and with brilliance.
This is one of several small-scale bust-length portraits of Haarlem figures by Hals which are associated with subsequent engravings, all in reverse, and were all probably made as modelli for prints. They span several decades, revealing a working method to which Hals adhered. The earliest is the portrait of Theodorus Schrevelius, which is dated 1617 and inscribed with the sitter's age of 44, and is like the present work, on a copper support.4 It served as the modello for Jacob Matham's engraving of 1618, and was again engraved by Jonas Suyderhoef later on. Schrevelius too holds a small book in his left hand, marking a page with his forefinger. Another small work on copper, probably painted in 1627, portrays an as yet unidentified sitter, and was not, to the best of our knowledge, engraved.5 Hals' small panel portrait of Isaac Abrahamsz. Massa, painted in circa 1635, served as the modello for Adriaen Mathams's engraving in reverse of that year.6 Unlike the other sitters for Hals' small portraits, Massa was not strictly speaking a scholar, being a merchant and diplomat who travelled extensively and protractedly in Russia, but he did earn a reputation as a cartographer and geographer.7 Slightly later in the 1630s Hals made a small portrait of the Haarlem calligrapher and teacher Jean de la Chambre, which served as the modello for Jonas Suyderhoef's engraving in reverse of 1638.8 A decade later, his small portrait on panel of René Descartes was used by the faithful Jonas Suyderhoef as the modello for his engraving in reverse.9 In the mid-1650s his portrait of the successful Haarlem painter of Brazilian exotica, Frans Post, also served as Suyderhoef's modello. The Post portrait is a good example of how Hals, while his portraiture evolved considerably, retained the same devices to give his small-scale bust-length portraits depth - in particular the shadow of the sitter on the wall beyond, to be found in both the Frans Post and the present portrait.10
Small-scale portraits such as these remained a part of Hals' working practice until the last decade of his life, although later examples, such as the Portrait of a Preacher of 1658-60 were not engraved.11 They were clearly an essential part of his working method, and mirror the use of oil sketches by his Flemish contemporaries such as Rubens and Van Dyck for engraved portraits. Nonetheless, Claus Grimm has repeatedly asserted that the Schrevelius and the present Ampzing portrait, among others, are copies. Given that no drawings by Hals are known, and he is generally thought not to have made them, at least as a part of his working method, and that in most cases no other portraits of these sitters by Hals are known from which an engraver could have taken an image, one must ask: if not these small-scale portraits, where did Suyderhoef and the other engravers find their modelli? It seems implausible to suggest that for each engraving, another, now lost design by Hals existed, and that these were in turn copied, and these copies alone, (perhaps engravers' copies) have survived. Given their extremely high quality and utterly Halsian character, one would further have to enquire what unknown genius painted them?
If one is to search for lost Hals designs, one would do better to search for the modelli for some of the engravings after him, which are not currently known to us. It is unlikely that Hals made small-scale modelli for all of these engravings, since later engravings may have been taken directly from large-scale portraits.
State of Preservation
This picture was cleaned by Nancy Krieg in New York in 1995. Her condition report is available upon request. At the time a photograph was taken showing the painting cleaned, prior to retouching, which reveals a remarkably good state of preservation, with minimal intervention required (see fig. 2).
The 2nd Earl of Cloncarty's collection was dispersed in a sale of 106 lots at Christie's in 1892 with his designation, but presumably consigned for sale by his descendants. The present picture was by some margin the most expensive lot in the sale. The catalogue states that he acquired this picture at Van Eyk's sale in The Hague in 1820, but however you spell the name, there seems to be no record of any sale matching that description in 1820, and the Van Eyk sale in 1821 contained no picture matching this description. Probably shortly after the Clancarty sale it passed into the collection of the Canadian railway magnate Sir William van Horne, and remained in the possession of his family until 1966 or shortly before.
1. S. Ampzing, Beschryvinge ende lof der stad Haerlem in Holland, Haarlem 1628, p. 371.
2. This translation was made by I. van Thiel-Stroman, published by Seymour Slive (see under Literature, 1989, p. 382).
3. Wacker, or in modern Dutch wakker, an adverb derived from the noun meaning awake or vigilant, means smartly or briskly, but dashingly is an apt rendering in English of Ampzing's hyperbolic tone.
4. Sold in these Rooms, 6 December 1995, lot 93; see Slive, under Literature, 1970, pp. 8, 28-29, 59, 125, 154; Slive, 1974, vol. 3, p. 7, no. 8, reproduced vol. 2, plate 23; Slive 1989, pp. 141-3, no. 5, reproduced.
5. Berlin, Gemäldegalerie Alter Meister; see Slive, 1970, pp. 58, 122; and Slive, 1974, vol. 3, p. 31, no. 48, reproduced vol. 2, plate 82.
6. San Diego, Fine Arts Gallery; see Slive, 1974, p. 58, no. 103, reproduced vol. 2, plate 168.
7. See Slive, 1970, p. 56.
8. National Gallery, London, inv. 6411; see Slive, 1970, p. 127; and Slive, 1974, p. 65, no. 122, reproduced vol. 2, plate 194. Unusually, this picture was engraved by Suyderhoef in the same direction. This painting is included in the current exhibition of Dutch Portraits in the Age of Rembrandt, formerly in the National Gallery, London, and currently at The Mauritshuis, The Hague (no. 22).
9. Copenhagen, Statens Museum for Kunst; see Slive, 1989, pp. 314-5, no. 66, reproduced.
10. See Slive, 1989, pp. 344-5, no. 77. Slive here remarks of the late small-scale portraits: "All show that, until the very end, Hals remained at home working on a small as well as a life-size scale."
11. Private collection; see Slive, 1989, pp. 346-7, no. 78, reproduced.
12. The next most expensive lot was a Gerbrand van den Eeckhout group portrait followed by a Jan Fyt of Dead Game that Cloncarty had bought, with appropriate culinary consistency, from Spruyt in Brussels in 1821.
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