An inscription at upper left gives the age of the unidentified sitter as fifty-six. Soberly but richly dressed in black silk, with a brocaded bodice, the ruddy-cheeked lady, holding a Bible or prayerbook, appears well-established in a comfortable existence. Her solid, rounded form and four-square setting enhance the sense of a life led in a secure position within her society. The portrait records her features with objectivity and with a blunt, vigorous brushwork that seems in itself to reflect her character. Like most of Hals’ works, this one employs a plain, unadorned background perfectly suited to his style of portraiture. Various suggestions have been made for a male companion to the portrait, but no agreement has been reached.

Source: Art in The Frick Collection: Paintings, Sculpture, Decorative Arts, New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996.


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