Frans Hals (Dutch, c. 1581-1666), Portrait of a Woman, possibly Aeltje Dircksdr. Pater , 1638, oil on canvas, Framed: 82 x 67 x 6.5 cm (32 1/4 x 26 3/8 x 2 1/2 in.); Unframed: 66.5 x 52.3 cm (26 1/8 x 20 9/16 in.). Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund, 1948.137 © The Cleveland Museum of Art.

Some portraits like that of Tieleman Roosterman (in the middle of this wall) display the bravura strokes we associate with Hals, while this work shows him experimenting with tighter handling. Hals often painted “wet-into-wet,” not allowing the paint to dry before applying additional layers. In the figure’s hairline, blended strokes create convincing strands of hair that seem to issue from her forehead. Hals drags layers of paint around her left eye to create fleshy contours as she raises her brow to catch our attention. That active engagement with the spectator animates the woman, who seems to be caught in a moment rather than posed.