Exploring Artinside Museum Masterpieces. # 5

A Journey into Frans Hals' "Portrait of a Woman (probably Aeltje Dircksdr. Pater)" in Augmented Reality, with the Guide of Artebinaria's Art Director.

Frans Hals, Portrait of a woman, in Augmented Reality

Let’s continue our journey to discover Artinside Museum’s augmented reality masterpieces. After exploring works such as Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid“, Toulouse-Lautrec’s “At the Moulin Rouge“, Georges Seurat’s study of “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte“, and Georges de La Tour’s “The Fortune Teller,” today we will continue our exploration of the second room in the second Pavilion dedicated to Portraits and focus on the painting by the Dutch artist Frans Hals.

🖼️ Inside the Second Pavilion: Portraits

🏛️ Second Room: From the 16th to the 17th Century

📍 Position: Fifth Artwork

🎨 Artwork: Portrait of a Woman (Aeltje Dircksdr. Pater) by Frans Hals

Frans Hals's Portrait of a Woman

We enter the second Pavilion dedicated to Portraits, and once in augmented reality, we select the second panel from the main menu to access the room housing a selection of Portraits from the Sixteenth to the Seventeenth Century.

Among the five artworks that appear around us, we immediately direct our attention to the first painting on the invisible wall to our left. Before our eyes, Frans Hals’ “Portrait of a Woman” appears.

The painting, without a frame, is of medium size, measuring approximately 82 cm in height and 66 centimeters in width. It depicts an elegantly dressed lady, portrayed in three-quarters view, with a lively gaze turned towards us and a faint smile that seems to touch her lips.

Who is the woman depicted?

You’re probably wondering who the woman in the portrait is. We don’t know her identity for certain, but some scholars have identified her as Aeltje Dircksdr. Pater (1597–1678), who was the wife of the brewer and mayor of Haarlem, Jan de Wael (1594-1663). The woman was portrayed at the age of 41, as confirmed by the inscription in the upper left corner of the painting.
Approach the canvas in front of you with the device and carefully examine the inscription that reads: “AETAT SUAE 41 / ANNO 1638.” The artwork, therefore, was created in the year 1638, and the woman depicted was 41 years old at the time.
Now, I invite you to move away with the device to see the artwork again in its entirety.

Frans Hals, Portrait of a woman, in Augmented Reality

Fashion in the Netherlands

During the period spanning the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries, fashion in the Netherlands was initially influenced by the Spanish trend, characterized by austere appearances and strict formality, which served as a status model even for Lutherans and Calvinists. The predominance of black clothing, both for men and women, reflected the bourgeois morality of this period, but this intensity was balanced by the use of wide white areas created by collars and ruffs. Furthermore, the brightness of the attire was enriched by sparkling golden trims and vibrant colored fabrics for underskirts.
Let’s now explore together what the lady is wearing and how her attire reflects Dutch fashion.

Frans Hals, Portrait of a woman, in Augmented Reality

The Lady's Clothing

The woman in the portrait is wearing an overgown-mantle called a ‘Vlieger’, which was reserved for married women. This overgown is made of black brocaded velvet with golden filigree patterns on the chest. A row of small golden buttons fastens the overgown at the front and the sleeves.

Around her neck, the lady wears an elaborate, wide, starched linen collar known as a ‘ruff’, consisting of narrow pleats in the shape of an eight. Unlike Spanish ruffs, this one was soft and allowed for head movement, even though it could reach substantial sizes. Its purpose was to give a rigid and aristocratic posture.

Now let’s closely examine the woman’s head. Her hair is pulled back, revealing a broad forehead. On her head, she wears a linen cap embroidered with lace edges, typical of Dutch fashion. 

The embroidery on the cap is echoed by the white cuffs, which are also adorned with lace, glistening on the sleeves of the black mantle.

The lady holds a pair of white gloves in her hand and wears a wedding ring on her right index finger. She also wears gold bracelets and pearl drop earrings. This painting not only serves as an important testimony for the study of period clothing but also reflects the social status of the depicted woman.

Frans Hals, Portrait of a woman, in Augmented Reality

The Technique

As we approach the painting, we immediately notice Frans Hals’ distinctive painting style characterized by loose and bold brushstrokes.

In this work, the artist employed the ‘wet-on-wet’ technique, layering colors without waiting for them to dry. Upon closer inspection, we can observe the soft brushstrokes applied in the area of the woman’s hairstyle, creating the illusion of individual tufts of hair.

It is said that Frans Hals painted ‘alla prima‘, outlining the design directly on the canvas with a simple brown stroke. He would then let the colors define the shapes and expression without waiting for the layers to dry. His brushstrokes blended together, giving the painting a distinctive immediacy and spontaneity.

The Life of Frans Hals

Frans Hals was born between 1580 and 1583 in Antwerp, Flanders. His family decided to move to Haarlem in the Netherlands, a region experiencing significant economic development. This move was common during that era, as many Flemish families were emigrating to Holland and the northern regions of the Netherlands, both for religious and economic reasons.

Once settled in Haarlem, Frans Hals embarked on a career as a painter and became one of the most extraordinary portrait artists in Western art. His career primarily spanned from 1616 to 1666, the year of his death, and he spent most of his life in this city, rarely venturing elsewhere. In 1610, Hals was admitted to the Guild of Saint Luke, marking the official start of his artistic career. Over the years, he had two marriages and a large family, with nine or even eleven children, three of whom became painters themselves.

His artistic specialization primarily focused on genre painting and the creation of numerous portraits, often in group settings.

His artistic genius remained largely underrated until the 19th century, often overshadowed by rumors of his frequenting taverns, spending money recklessly, and setting a poor example for his children. It was Théophile Thoré-Burger, the same French critic who rediscovered Vermeer, who finally restored Frans Hals to the recognition he deserved in 1868, describing him as an innovator in Dutch art and a master for the new generation of painters. Artists like Courbet, Manet, Sargent, and Van Gogh deeply admired Frans Hals and recognized his extraordinary artistic talent.

Frans Hals, Portrait of a woman, in Augmented Reality

Frans Hals' Commissions

Frans Hals was frequently commissioned by the city’s authorities and prominent families for portraits. He even portrayed the philosopher René Descartes. His commissions earned him fees of around sixty to seventy florins per portrait, while Rembrandt, at the height of his success, charged one hundred florins. Despite his remarkable artistic abilities, Frans Hals never managed to become wealthy and often faced financial difficulties. He always rented his residence, engaged in art restoration and art dealing, and sometimes settled his debts with artworks.

His life was marked by ups and downs, but his extraordinary artistic talent and his impact on the history of art are undeniable.

Exploration of the Artwork in Augmented Reality: Reflections and Comments

Now that we have completed the analysis of the artwork and delved into the artist’s background, we invite you to explore the artwork in the second room of the Portrait Pavilion using the Artinside Museum application. During this experience, we encourage you to view the artwork from various perspectives, keeping in mind what you have learned.

As you immerse yourself in the augmented reality artwork, consider the following questions:

– What emotions or sensations does this representation evoke in you?

– Which details or elements of the artwork particularly capture your attention, and why?

Lastly, if you had the chance to ask artist Frans Hals a question about this artwork, what would your ideal question be?

We invite you to share your reflections and comments by writing to info@artebinaria.it. Your thoughts will be collected and may be included in future articles. Thank you for your participation.

Artinside Museum
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The credits for the artwork are mentioned in Artinside Museum and are also provided below:

The Cleveland Museum of Art 

enjoy 'the artebinaria gazette'!


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