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Frans Hals, Portrait of a Man holding Gloves

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Man holding Gloves
Artist Frans Hals
Artist dates 1582/3 - 1666
Date made about 1645
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 78.5 × 67.3 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2528
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Man holding Gloves
Frans Hals

The sitter in this portrait is clearly a prosperous man, conventionally but expensively dressed in the style of the mid-1640s. Beyond that, no evidence has survived – we don’t know who he is. Nevertheless, this portrait is a good example of Hals’s ability both to capture a convincing likeness and to make his sitters seem to come alive. The man here leans back slightly, thrusting his elbow towards us. This, and the way that he tilts his head and grasps his gloves in his left hand, lifting them slightly as he does so, implies movement – a moment captured.

Hals had to work on the pose to achieve this effect. If you look carefully at the outline of the man’s hat and left arm, you can see that the artist made changes to his first draft, shifting the sitter back slightly in a way that emphasises the tilt of the head and the jut of the elbow.

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