This cheerfully laughing boy with sparkly eyes and dishevelled hair is not a portrait, but a ‘tronie’ – a study of a laughing child. Laughing figures are unusual, as laughter is one of the most difficult expressions to capture. The virtuoso Hals painted the boy very directly and spontaneously, using remarkably loose brushstrokes. And yet he knew exactly what he was doing. The bridge of the boy’s nose, for example, is painted with a single well-placed stroke of white.


  • Title: Laughing Boy
  • Creator: Hals, Frans
  • Date Created: c.1625
  • Physical Dimensions: d30.45 cm
  • Provenance: Albert, Baron von Oppenheim, Cologne, before 1876-1912; his sale, Berlin (Lepke), 27 October 1914, postponed to 19 March 1918, lot 16; Marie-Anne Friedländer-Fuld, Baroness de Goldschmidt-Rothschild, Berlin and Paris, 1918-1968; purchased with the support of the Rembrandt Association, the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund and the Friends of the Mauritshuis Foundation, 1968
  • Type: painting; oil
  • Medium: panel

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