Frans Hals was the preeminent portrait painter in Haarlem, the most important artistic center of Holland in the early part of the seventeenth century. He was famous for his uncanny ability to portray his subjects with relatively few bold brushstrokes, and often used informal poses to enliven his portraits. Even though the young man’s turned pose and the artist’s extremely free brushwork have a genrelike quality, this small panel may very well be a portrait of Hals’ teenage son Harmen, whose appearance later in life is known from a drawing in the Haarlem archives.

Hals frequently used an illusionistic oval framing device for small-scale portraits he painted in the 1610s and 1620s. Although some of these small portraits served as modelli for engraved portraits, no print related to this image seems to have been made. The close-up composition and informal pose allowed Hals to reinforce the dynamic, three-dimensionality of the young man, whose elbow projects beyond the painted picture frame into the viewer’s space.


  • Title: A Young Man in a Large Hat
  • Creator: Frans Hals
  • Date Created: 1626/1629
  • Physical Dimensions: overall: 29.3 x 23.2 cm (11 9/16 x 9 1/8 in.) framed: 46.7 x 40.6 x 5.7 cm (18 3/8 x 16 x 2 1/4 in.)
  • Provenance: C.J.G. Bredius, Woerden, by 1918.[1] (M. Knoedler & Co., New York and Paris); sold 30 January 1929 to Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington; deeded 28 June 1937 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1940 to NGA. [1] According to Hans Schneider, "Ein neues Bild von Frans Fals," _Kunstchronik und Kunstmarkt_ 30 (1918-1919), 368, Bredius acquired this sketch for 60 florins as part of an inheritance. The painting was at that time attributed to Jan Miense Molenaer. The attribution to Hals was made by Abraham Bredius, who persuaded his relative to lend the painting for a while to the Mauritshuis. Later references to earlier owners Van der Hoop and Slochteren (see Seymour Slive, _Frans Hals_, 3 vols., London and New York, 1970-1974, 3: 41-42, no. 66) cannot be confirmed.
  • Medium: oil on panel

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