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Frans Hals (Antwerp 1582/3-1666 Haarlem)
Frans Hals (Antwerp 1582/3-1666 Haarlem)

Portrait of a gentleman, three-quarter-length, in a black coat and cape with a black hat, his gloves in his left hand

Frans Hals (Antwerp 1582/3-1666 Haarlem)
Portrait of a gentleman, three-quarter-length, in a black coat and cape with a black hat, his gloves in his left hand
oil on canvas
42 x 80 in. (108 x 79.5 cm.)
J.H. Cremer; sale Le Roy, Brussels, 25-26 November 1868, lot 31, given pre-eminence in the description of sale highlights in the catalogue as 'Un magnifique portrait d'homme dans lequel Frans Hals, le Vieux, a dploy toutes les ressources de son gnie' (5,900 francs to Sedelmeyer).
F.J. Gsell (b. 1811 or 1812 in Alsace, settled in Vienna circa 1850, d. 1871); (+) sale Plach, Vienna, 14 March 1872 (and successive days), lot 37, illustrated, 'Mit grosser Bravour prima gemalt, wie aus einem Gusse; die geniale Technik des Meisters zeigend' (25,000 Kr. to Lsher).
Gustav Ritter von Epstein, Vienna, circa 1870.
with C. Sedelmeyer, Paris, 1898, cat. no. 52.
Baron Albert von Rothschild, Vienna.
Rothschild inv. no. LR13.
W. Bode, Studien zur Geschichte der hollndischen Malerei, Brunswick, 1883, no. 126, as circa 1655.
1905 Theresianumgasse Inventory, p. 372, no. 9.
E.W. Moes, Frans Hals, sa Vie et son Oeuvre, translated by J. de Bosschere, Brussels, 1909, no. 115.
C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonn, etc., III, 1910, p. 90, no. 322, as a pendant to the following lot.
W. von Bode and M.J. Binder, Frans Hals, sein Leben und seine Werke, Berlin, 1914, no. 248.
T. von Frimmel, Lexikon der Wiener Gemldesammlungen, Munich, I, and II, 1913, 1914, pp. 318-319, and p. 82.
W.R. Valentiner, 'Frans Hals', Klassiker der Kunst, XXVIII, 2nd. revised edn., Stuttgart-Berlin-Leipzig, 1923, p. 246, as circa 1649-50.
Frans Dhlberg, Frans Hals: ein Leben und ein Werk, Stuttgart, 1930, p. 194.
1934 Theresianumgasse Inventory, p. 127, no. 1008.
N.S. Trivas, The Paintings of Frans Hals, London-New York, 1941, no. 89, as circa 1643-45.
V. Oberhammer, The Vienna Gallery: Masterpieces from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, 1959, 2nd edn. translated by R. Waterhouse, London, 1964, no. 40, illustrated.
G. Heinz and F. Klauner, Katalog der Gemldegalerie, II, Teil, Vlamen, Hollnder, Deutsche, Franzosen, Vienna, 1963, no. 184.
S. Slive, Frans Hals, Volume One: Text, London, 1970, p. 184, and Volume Two: Plates, pl. 286.
K. Demus, ed., Katalog der Gemldegalerie, Hollndische Meister des 15., 16, und 17. Jahrhunderts, Vienna, 1972, p. 38.
C. Grimm and E.C. Montagni, L'Opera Completa di Frans Hals, Milan, 1974, no. 193.
S. Slive, Frans Hals Volume Three: Catalogue, London, 1974, no.184, p. 96.
K. Groen and E. Hendricks, 'Frans Hals: a Technical Examination' in S. Slive, catalogue of the exhibition, Frans Hals, Washington, D.C., London, Haarlem, pp. 112, 116, and p. 120.
C. Grimm, Frans Hals, 1989, pp. 244-5, fig. 136, as Workshop of Hals, circa 1652.
C. Brandsttter, ed., die Gemlde des Kunsthistorisches Museum in Wien, Verzeichnis der Gemlde, Vienna, 1991, inv. no. 9009, p. 65, fig. 508.
Vienna, sterreichischen Museum fr Kunst und Industrie, 1873, no. 103.
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv. no. 9091, since 1947.

Lot Essay

The present picture was described in the 1868 Cremer catalogue thus: 'Dans ce portrait, point de luxe xterieur, points de brillants ornements, rien qui sente l'apparat; ce qui frappe appartient uniquement au pinceau, l'art du peintre, son gnie....Ce portrait appelle tout particulirement l'attention par la correction du dessin, la puissance magique du coloris, la fonte des emptements, la gradation des teintes, l'harmonie des tons et la franchise tonnante de la touche, qui en font la page la plus remarquable de cet artiste, aprs le clbre chef-d'oeuvre qui a figur la vente de la galerie Pourtales.' The complement paid here was particularly significant, in that the painting to which this picture is regarded as second only, is The Laughing Cavalier, acquired by Lord Hertford at the Pourtales sale (see also the note to the previous lot).

However this and the following lot are among the substantial number of paintings which Claus Grimm has described as from Hals's workshop. Grimm's exclusionist attitude to the hitherto generally accepted corpus of Hals's work has not been widely discussed; it runs counter to many of Slive's ascriptions (as in the case of the standing portraits in the National Gallery of Scotland), and in the case of the two present lots, which he places in his Group A, 'a sophisticated group of works by Hals's assistants ...', which includes among others the Female Regents of the Old Men's Almshouse.

Slive has the weight of past opinion behind him, including such authorities as von Bode and Hofstede de Groot, both giants in the connoisseurship of Dutch seventeenth-century painting. In cataloguing the present lots as the work of Frans Hals, Slive's opinion, that of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, and the views of earlier authorities are here affirmed.

Slive, who dated the two works circa 1650-1652, followed Hofstede de Groot, in proposing that they are probably pendants, a view not followed by Grimm who nevertheless dates them to the same approximate time. Although scholars are still divided onthe matter, although Slive's view is to a degree substantiated by technical analysis of the Portrait of a Woman, whose support has been altered; the original dimensions 'can be proved more or less [to] match those of the Portrait of a Man', see Groen and Hendriks, op. cit.., pp. 111-112. They also report that the grounds are of a similar composition (ibid., p. 116).

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