Theodorus Schrevelius was a schoolmaster in Haarlem; later he became principal of the Latin school in Leiden. His chief claim to fame is his book on the history of Haarlem, ‘Harlemias …’, which was published in 1648. In this book Schrevelius praised Frans Hals’s free manner of painting. He wrote that Hals painted his portraits so that ‘they seemed to breathe’.
Hals painted this little portrait on copper. Copper gives paintings a smooth, enamel-like appearance, but even so Hals’s characteristic powerful brushstrokes are evident. Frans Hals painted small portraits of clergymen and scholars like this as models for engravings. This painting, too, was produced as a print – by the engraver Jacob Matham.
When the painting was restored it was noted that there is some minor damage to the paint around one eye and the mouth, and in the coat, associated with copying the image for the engraving. In these areas the top layer of paint adhered to the tracing sheet. This damage is really only visible through a microscope, but the odd light accent to the left of the moustache is damage that can clearly be seen with the naked eye.