The strength and vitality of the people who helped establish the new Dutch Republic are nowhere better captured than in paintings by Frans Hals. Hals was the preeminent portrait painter in Haarlem, the most important Dutch city in the early part of the seventeenth century. This mercantile, intellectual, and artistic center attracted many immigrants from Flanders, including Hals' parents.

Although the name of this sitter is not known, Hals inscribed her age, sixty, and the date of the painting, 1633, in the background on the left. The prayer book she holds in her right hand and her conservative black costume with its white ruff clearly indicate her pious nature, yet Hals tells us far more about her through her face and hands than through her costume and book. With firm yet broad strokes of his brush he conveys her lively, robust personality. Her self-confidence is felt in the twinkle of her eyes, in the firm grasp of her hand on the arm of the chair, and by the strong silhouette of her form against the gray background.


  • Title: Portrait of an Elderly Lady
  • Date Created: 1633
  • Physical Dimensions: w869 x h1025 cm (overall)
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Andrew W. Mellon Collection
  • External Link: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Theme: portrait, female
  • School: Dutch
  • Provenance: Jurriaans; (sale, Van de Schley, Roos, and De Vries, Amsterdam, 28 August 1817, no. 20); Cornelius Sebille Roos [1754 1820], Amsterdam. Charlotte Camille, Comtesse Boucher de la Rupelle [née de Tascher, d. 1911], Paris; sold by 1905 to (Charles Sedelmeyer, Paris); James Simon [1851 1932], Berlin, by 1906. (A. Preyer);[1] purchased 12 June 1919 by (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London, New York, and Paris);[2] held jointly with (Thos. Agnew & Sons, Ltd., London), June to November 1919);[3] (Duveen Brothers, Inc.); sold June 1920 to Andrew W. Mellon, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.; deeded 28 December 1934 to The A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust, Pittsburgh; gift 1937 to NGA. [1] This is most likely the Dutch dealer, Abraham Preyer. See Dieuwertje Dekkers, “’Where Are the Dutchmen?’ Promoting the Hague School in America, 1875 1900,” Simiolus: Netherlands Quarterly for the History of Art 24, no. 1 (1996): 67 68. [2] Duveen Brothers Records, accession number 960015, Research Library, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles: reel 103, box 248, folder 22. Oddly, the Duveen prospectus, in NGA curatorial files, says the painting was acquired by Duveen in 1927, which is clearly an error. [3] The painting was Agnew’s stock number J1821. This information comes from the Agnew stock books, and is recorded in the Public Collections portion of the Getty Provenance Index® Databases. J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles.
  • Artist: Frans Hals

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