A new record for Frans Hals set a couple of portraits

Images of unknown men and women were sold at Christie's for £ 10 million.Auction house Christie's set a new record for the works of Frans Hals - the artist, who is called one of the three pillars of the Golden Age of Holland.
Two canvases - "Portrait of a gentleman at the age of 37 years old" and "Portrait of a lady at the age of 36 years old" - went under the hammer for 10 million pounds sterling (12.7 million US dollars) during the sale of the collection of Eric Albada-Gelgersma.
  • Frans Hals, "Portrait of a Man at the Age of 37" (1637). Private collection
  • Frans Hals, "Portrait of a Lady at the Age of 36" (1637). Private collection
Both portraits, dated 1637, were written by Hals at the height of his career. Their exceptional condition allows you to fully appreciate the revolutionary technique of the artist and the surprisingly thin range of his limited palette. During this period, the bright tones of the early works were replaced by exquisite transitions of gray, brown and, above all, black. The painter's interest in the nuances of the last color is so obvious that his compatriot and colleague Vincent van Gogh wrote with envy two and a half centuries later: “The devil has at least 27 shades of black on the palette”.
Indeed, in the 1630s, the shade of silver in his earlier portraits changed to a more golden color, the painting accents became more restrained, and the forms became simpler, which filled the paintings with a more significant sense of unity.

Portraits of an unknown married couple by Frans Hals in the house of collector Eric Albada-Gelzhermsma
The clothes of Hals' sitters in the 1630s also demonstrate some restraint, which was not so obvious before. The ostentatious displays of wealth have disappeared - richly embroidered black clothes and corsages, round lace cuffs, ruffles, hats and multi-colored petticoats that can be seen in images, for example, Jacob Olikan, a rich brewer from Harlem, and his wife Aletta Hanemans. The apparent simplicity of the clothes of unknown men and women in the current portraits suggests that they were Mennonites, that is, members of a religious sect, which included approximately 14% of the population of Harlem at that time.

  • Frans Hals, "Portrait of Jacob Peters Olikan" (1625). Mauritshuis, The Hague
  • Frans Hals, "Portrait of Aletta Hanemans" (1625). Mauritshuis, The Hague
This pair of paintings would almost certainly have been ordered for the anniversary of the marriage of anonymous models. By tradition, the husband is depicted to the right of his wife - this is a position of honor and authority. His right hand is on his heart in a gesture of gratitude. Each spouse holds a pair of relatively simple buckskin gloves. These were expensive and fashionable accessories, emphasizing the wealth and status of the owners, and therefore they were often presented as a sign of love or as a gift for the wedding (most often the groom gave gloves to the bride).

Frans Hals, Portrait of Willem Heithessen (1634). Royal Museums of Fine Arts, Brussels
The previous record for works by Frans Hals, set at public auction, lasted 10 years. He belonged to a small portrait of a swaggering textile merchant Willem van Heythesen. At first, the panel was considered a work of a follower of Hals, but then they recognized it as the work of the master himself. In 2008, the picture was sold at Sotheby's for 7.1 million pounds (14 million dollars). This is slightly less than the amount paid in a closed transaction for a much larger picture of the artist.

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According to the materials of the official website of the auction house Christie's