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Title Portrait of a Lady
Collection Ferens Art Gallery, Hull
Artist Hals, Frans (Dutch painter, born ca. 1581, died 1666)
Attributed to Hals, Frans, II (Dutch painter, 1618-1669)
Date Earliest about 1655
Date Latest about 1660

'Although not identified until 1952, Hals' Portrait of a Young Woman has acquired an international reputation... The allure of the painting can be attributed to its enigmatic qualities. The sitter remains unknown and even the date when Hals painted her remains conjectural... A few assumptions can, however, be made. The sitter is likely to have been the wife of a Haarlem burgher or merchant, as isolated female portraits are very rare in Dutch 17th century painting - it is therefore probable that Hals also painted the sitter's husband, although no surviving portrait can be put forward as the possible pendant. In many of Hals' portraits the sitter's identity has been lost as there are no clues, such as coats of arms. Moreover, the provenance of the painting can only be traced back with near-certainty to the middle years of the 19th century. By the time the picture was in an English collection, it had lost the family continuity necessary to preserve the names of earlier generation. The [portrait] is unforgettable for its serene but direct smile, and for the disarming simplicity with which the figure looks out at us.' (Wright, 2002, p. 56).

Current Accession Number 526
Subject portrait
Measurements 60.0 x 55.5 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Purchased from George Wyndham with the aid of the National Art-Collections Fund, the Gulbenkian Foundation and the Victoria & Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund 1963.
Provenance Probably acquired by the 4th Earl of Egremont; by descent to the 3rd Earl's natural son George Wyndham (created Baron Leconfield in 1859); possibly by descent to the 4th Earl's widow (d. 1876), to William Wyndham, and to his nephew George Wyndham of Orchard Wyndham by 1952; George Wyndham sale, Christie's, London, 24 November 1961, lot 70; bought by the Ferens Art Gallery from George Wyndham in February 1963 (Wright, 2002).
Principal Exhibitions Dutch Pictures 1450-1750, Royal Academy, London, 1952-53, cat. no. 157, lent by George Wyndham; Art Treasures Centenary, Manchester City Art Gallery, 1957, cat. no. 118; Gifts to Galleries, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 1968, cat. no. 40; Dutch Seventeenth-Century Paintings from Yorkshire Public Collections, Leeds City Art Gallery, 1982-83, cat. no. 4; Portraits, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, 1989, cat. no. 55; Images of a Golden Age, Birmingham City Art Gallery, 1989, cat. no, 55; Frans Hals, Royal Academy, London, and Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, 1989-90, cat. no. 74, as c. 1655-1660; Saved for Yorkshire, Leeds City Art Gallery, 1995-96; Art Treasures of England, Royal Academy, London, 1998, cat. no. 305, as c. 1655-1660; From Medieval to Regency, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, 2002, cat. no. 133.
Publications Martin, W. A., 'An Unknown Portrait by Frans Hals', The Burlington Magazine, December 1952, pp. 359-60, pl. 1, as 1645; Annual Report of the National Art-Collections Fund, 1963, no. 2121, p. 16, illustrated, frontispiece; Bulletin of the Ferens Art Gallery, Hull, April-May-June 1963; Rosenberg, Jacob, Seymour Slive, and O. ter Kuile, Dutch Art and Architecture 1660 - 1800, London, 1966, p. 45, pl. 23b; Grimm, Claus, L'opera completa di Frans Hals, Milan, 1974, no. 264, illus., as doubtful; Wright, Christopher, Frans Hals, London, 1977, p. 13 p. 40; Gore, F. St John, Annual Report of the National Art-Collections Fund, London, 1977, ill. p. 58; Baard, Henricus Petrus, Frans Hals, New York, 1981, p. 152, dated c. 1660; Wright, Christopher, 'A National Lack', Art and Artists, May 1984, illustrated on cover; Wright, Christopher, From Medieval to Regency: Old Masters in the Collection of the Ferens, Hull, 2002, cat. no. 133, pp. 56-57, 196-97.
Notes Every writer on Hals has commented on the quality of this portrait. However, Claus Grim, the acknowledged authority on Hals, has consistently rejected the attribution to Frans Hals in favour of the artist's son Frans Hals the Younger (Haarlem 1618 - Haarlem 1669). Countering Grim's opinion is the fact that Hals the Younger is better known for his still life and genre paintings, which are mostly dated from the late 1630s or early 1640s.
Rights Owner Ferens Art Gallery, Hull
Author Dr Ruth Stewart



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