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.