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Frans Hals, Portrait of Jean de la Chambre at the Age of 33

Key facts
Full title Portrait of Jean de la Chambre at the Age of 33
Artist Frans Hals
Artist dates 1582/3 - 1666
Date made about 1638
Medium and support Oil on wood
Dimensions 20.6 × 16.8 cm
Inscription summary Dated
Acquisition credit Presented by the Misses Rachel F. and Jean I. Alexander; entered the Collection, 1972
Inventory number NG6411
Location On loan: The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Frans Hals (Loans Out), Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of Jean de la Chambre at the Age of 33
Frans Hals

Holding a quill in his right hand, the man in this portrait has turned his head towards us, creating the feeling that we have just interrupted his work. He gives us a questioning look, as if he is waiting for an explanation for the interruption. The sitter is Jean de la Chambre (1605/6–1668), a distinguished calligrapher and master of the French School in Haarlem.

Compared to the ambitious large-scale portraits of members of the ruling classes for which Frans Hals is known, this is a relatively unassuming – but nonetheless powerful – work. It was painted as a model for an engraving executed by the Haarlem printmaker Jonas Suyderhoef. The engraving was used as the frontispiece for a book published by Jean de la Chambre in the same year, which contained six engraved plates of examples of his calligraphy.

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