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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 x 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 Room 25
Art route(s) B
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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