Portrait of a Man' by Hals is striking for its compositional simplicity and tonal unity - both aspects indicative of the artist's stylistic progression during the 1630s. The figure seems to burst out of the lower edge of the canvas. The sense of a strong physical presence is due to the spiral effect created by the jutting elbow on the viewer's left and the hand holding a pair of gloves that extends from the tautened cloth on the right. Gloves held in the hand, as opposed to being worn, are regarded as a gesture of friendship, which in this case is being offered to the viewer. It is evident that Hals painted very fast, impulsively and fluently, varying the texture of the raised paint surface so that the treatment of the clothes and fabric is in marked contrast with the rather thinly painted facial features. Colour accents are at this stage reduced in value. Hals succeeds in making the impermanent seem permanent and the mobile to be immobile. This illusion is the equivalent of a freeze frame in cinematic technique. Given such visual pyrotechnics and such technical dexterity that increased with the years, it is no wonder that Hals was so admired in France during the nineteenth century by artists such as Edouard Manet and Vincent van Gogh. Inscribed upper right near the head: ŤTAT SVAE 36/AN. 1630


  • Title: Portrait of a Man
  • Creator: Frans Hals
  • Date Created: 1630
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Supplied by Royal Collection Trust / (c) HM Queen Elizabeth II 2012
  • External Link: http://www.rct.uk/collection/405349
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas
  • Provenance: Acquired by either Frederick, Prince of Wales, or George III; Royal Collection by 1795
  • Object description: Portrait of a gentleman, three-quarter-length, standing, facing three-quarters to the right, his head turned slightly to the right, resting his right hand on his hip and holding his kid gloves in his left; he is wearing a doublet and cloak.

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