Frans Hals, foremost painter in the Dutch city of Haarlem, was one of the most original and penetrating portraitists of the seventeenth century. This work, painted when the artist was in his eighties, is striking for the freedom of its vigorous brushwork. At the time, an admirer described Hals's...
Frans Hals, foremost painter in the Dutch city of Haarlem, was one of the most original and penetrating portraitists of the seventeenth century. This work, painted when the artist was in his eighties, is striking for the freedom of its vigorous brushwork. At the time, an admirer described Hals's late portraits as "very rough and bold, nimbly touched and well-ordered. They are pleasing and ingenious and, seen from afar, they seem alive and appear to lack nothing."
Lower right: F H (monogram)
By 1873, Dr. Max Strauss, Vienna [see note 1]; by 1917, sold by Strauss to Dr. Leon Lilienfeld (b. 1869 - d. 1938), Vienna [see note 2]; 1938, by inheritance to his widow, Antonie Schulz Lilienfeld (b. 1876 - d. 1972), Vienna and Gstaad, Switzerland but prevented from export and remained in the custody of Emerich Hunna, Vienna [see note 2]; 1941, pawned by Hunna to the Dorotheum, Vienna [see note 3]; March 21, 1944, transferred to Alt Aussee, Austria [see note 4]; 1946, collected by Allies and released to the United States Forces in Austria [see note 5]; 1948, restituted to Antonie Lilienfeld, Winchester, MA; 1966, gift of Mrs. Lilienfeld to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 14, 1966) NOTES:  According to Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century, trans. Edward G. Hawke, vol. 3 (London, 1910), p. 91, no. 323, this was included in the exhibition "Gemälde alter Meister aus dem Wiener Privatbesitz" (Vienna, 1873), cat. no. 41.  The painting was in the Lilienfeld collection by 1917, when it was published by Gustav Glück, Niederländische Gemälde aus der Sammlung des Herrn Dr. Leon Lilienfeld in Wien (Vienna, 1917), p. 63, cat. no. 25. According to a letter from Mrs. Lilienfeld to Seymour Slive (May 6, 1956; in MFA curatorial file), it had been purchased from Max Strauss.  Just after the Anschluss, or the incorporation of Austria into Nazi Germany in March 1938, the Lilienfelds fled for Italy. Dr. Lilienfeld died of natural causes there, and his wife continued on to Switzerland before emigrating to the United States. Mrs. Lilienfeld sought to export their art collection in 1938, but eight paintings of high value were prevented from leaving Austria. They remained in the custody of attorney Emerich Hunna. See Sophie Lillie, Was einmal war: Handbuch der enteigneten Kunstsammlungen Wiens (Vienna: Czernin, 2003), pp. 683, 696-697, and a copy of the May 28, 1941 Memorandum Regarding Pictures in Vienna Belonging to Mrs. Antonie Lilienfeld (sent by Richardson, Wolcott, Tyler and Fassett, Boston, to W. G. Constable, MFA, March 1, 1946)  Hunna pawned this work and a painting then called "Vanitas," attributed to Dou (MFA accession no. 48.1165) to the auction house Dorotheum, Vienna, for 15,000 RM. He later claimed that the money was needed to pay the costs of liquidation and taxes, and that the pictures would be better protected there (letter to Mrs. Lilienfeld, February 12, 1946; copy in MFA curatorial file). In 1943, Gottfried Reimer had the paintings appraised with an eye to acquiring them for the Führermuseum, the art museum Hitler was planning for Linz, Austria.  In 1944, the paintings were removed to the abandoned salt mines in Alt Aussee by the Austrian Monuments Protection Agency (Institut für Denkmalpflege), where they--along with other works stored by the Nazis--were to be kept safe from wartime bombing.  Letter from the Headquarters of the United States Forces in Austria to Andrew Ritchie (March 18, 1946). Ritchie had served in the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives division of the Allied Forces, and was enlisted by W. G. Constable of the MFA to help Mrs. Lilienfeld locate and recover her artwork.
Gift of Mrs. Antonie Lilienfeld in memory of Dr. Leon Lilienfeld