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Frans Hals, Portrait of a Woman with a Fan

Key facts
Full title Portrait of a Woman with a Fan
Artist Frans Hals
Artist dates 1582/3 - 1666
Date made about 1640
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 79.8 × 59 cm
Acquisition credit Salting Bequest, 1910
Inventory number NG2529
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Portrait of a Woman with a Fan
Frans Hals

This painting demonstrates Frans Hals’s gift for creating lively and animated portraits that suggest distinctive personalities. We don't know who the woman in this compelling work is, but her elegant dress and jewellery indicate that, like many of Hals’s patrons, she may have been the wife of a wealthy citizen of Haarlem.

Hals has paid great attention to the detail of her costume, which is characteristic of the period around 1640, when this picture was probably painted. She holds an expensive fan made of feathers, set in a gold mount and suspended from a gold chain. This object functions as a status symbol but also serves to give the woman’s pose movement. She pulls playfully on the chain with one hand and holds the fan’s mount delicately between the thumb and ring finger of the other – a position that could change momentarily.

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