05 janvier 2020

Frans Hals (Antwerp 1582/83 - 1666 Haarlem), Portrait of a boy of the Van Campen family

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Lot 31. Frans Hals (Antwerp 1582/83 - 1666 Haarlem), Portrait of a boy of the Van Campen family, oil on canvas, a fragment, 21¼ by 18⅝ in.; 54 by 47.4 cm. Estimate: 200,000 - 300,000 USD. © Sotheby's.

Provenance: Commissioned by Gijsbert Claesz van Campen and Maria Jorisdr, Haarlem, circa 1620-25;
Thence by descent to Cornelis Gijsbertsz van Campen, Haarlem;
Thence by descent to Zacharias Jurriaensz van Eeckhout and Agnes van Campen, Haarlem, before 1733 (listed in the 29 September 1733 estate inventory of Agnes van Campen, "Een groot stuck schilderij sijnde de familie van Gijsbert Claesz van Campen geschilderd door Frans Hals");
Thence by descent to Anna Balbina van Eeckhout, Haarlem, circa 1744;
Wilhelmus Gijsbertus Johannes van Tetterode (d. 1795), Haarlem, until circa 1795;
Wouterus de Nooy (1758-1826);
With H.M. Clark, London, by 1923;
From whom acquired by W.C. Escher (1859-1929), before 1927;
With Galerie Betty Mont, New York, 1939;
With Newhouse Galleries, New York, 1950;
From whom acquired by the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, 5 June 1950;
By whom sold, New York, Sotheby's, 4 June 1987, lot 50 (as follower of Frans Hals);
Here acquired by J. William Middendorf, Little Compton, Rhode Island, 1987;
With Noortman Galleries, Maastricht;
From whom acquired by the present owner, before 1996.
Exhibited: Toledo (Ohio), The Toledo Museum of Art; Brussels, The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Frans Hals Portraits: A Family Reunion, 13 October 2018 — 6 January 2019.
Literature: W. Valentiner, Frans Hals, des Meisters Gemälde in 322 Abbildungen, 2nd. ed., Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben, 28, Stuttgart/Berlin/Leipzig 1923, p. 307;
C. Grimm, Frans Hals: Entwicklung, Weranalyse, Gesamtkatalog, Berlin 1972, p. 19, 47, reproduced, fig. 18;
C. Grimm, Frans Hals. The Complete Work, New York 1990, pp. 17, 120, 273, cat. no. 13, reproduced, figs. 5a, 5b, 120a, color plate 99 (as circa 1621-22);
R.E.O. Ekkart, Hidden: Dutch and Flemish Paintings of the 16th and 17th Centuries from the Collection of W.C. Escher, Utrecht 2002, p. 16, reproduced, fig. 5;
L. Nichols, Frans Hals Portraits: A Family Reunion, exhibition catalogue, Toledo and Brussels 2018-2019, passim, no cat. no.

Note: This Portrait of a boy is a fragment of a large group-portrait by Frans Hals representing the family of the wealthy Haarlem cloth merchant Gijsbert Claesz van Campen and Maria Jorisdr. Palesteyn.1 Conclusive proof of this identification was provided by the estate inventory of Agnes van Campen, the widow of Zacharias van Eeckhout, who died on 29 September 1733. The inventory lists as item no. 4 in the “side room” (zijcamer) of her house the following painting: “A large painting, being the family of Gijsbert Claesz van Campen, painted by Frans Hals.”2 Agnes van Campen was the a grandchild of Gijsbert Claesz van Campen.

The family portrait was cut and three fragments still exist. The largest first section, formerly the left part of the painting was acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art in 2011.3 The second middle section with three children in a goat cart was donated in 1928 to the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels 4 and the present Portrait of a Boy, forming a small fragment of section three on the right, ended up in a private collection in Belgium.5 The rest of section three possibly was irreparably damaged by fire or water and therefore has disappeared completely.

Following the restoration of the three children with a goat cart, the thick layers of yellowed varnish and the retouches on the painting were removed and on the right the remnants of three other figures were discovered: a fragment of the head of a girl on the upper right, a small fragment of a skirt of a figure and the fragment of a skirt of a girl sitting on the ground.6 A small fragment of a starched linen collar belonging to the girl on the upper right side of the Children in a goat cart can be identified in the X-ray of the Portrait of a boy and also appears in the painting itself at the left side of his upper-arm providing definitive proof that the present Portrait of a Boy had formed part of the large Van Campen family group. Slive and Grimm, in their publications of 1969 and 1972, had suggested this earlier and had presented reconstructions, which now can be refuted convincingly.7 On the basis of the new discoveries Liesbeth de Belie and the Catherine van Herck presented a new reconstruction.8

The present portrait from the Van Campen family group depicts the eldest son, who, based on naming practices at the time, should be identified as Joris van Campen. He was presumably twelve years old and perhaps born around 1611-12. From family documents only the birth dates of Pieter and Cornelis are documented, as the other boys had died young, unmarried and childless. Pieter was born on 16 July 1615 and Cornelis on 29 June 1620, which would make them too young to be considered the sitter here.9 According to traditional naming, the newly found Portrait of a boy would represent the eldest son, Joris, named after his maternal grandfather. We also now know that the eldest child in the group was a daughter, who was probably born as early as 1605 and must have been around 18 or 19 years old when the portrait was painted. She is most likely the young woman with a child on her lap, a few remnants of which have come to light in the lower right-hand corner of Brussels’ painting. A search for more documentation on the children of Gijsbert Claesz van Campen and Maria Jorisdr yielded a burial date of him: “Master Jooris van Campen” was buried on 18 October 1636 in the Grote or St. Bavo Church in Haarlem. He had studied law in Leiden and attained his majority before dying unmarried in 1636.10

Joris belonged to a large family of fourteen children: eight girls and six boys. In the original large family group, when it was still intact, Hals depicted him on the right in a casual pose before a large tree. Smiling, he watches his younger brother Pieter driving the goat cart with his little brother and sister. Hals achieved a life-like vivid impression in the scene giving each figure a role to play within the group and paying equal attention to a natural pose and an individual expression of each figure, but also connecting them with casual interplay between the different groups and individual figures by having the older children take care of the young playful children. Later, in his two militia pieces from 1627 he would combine this with an even greater freedom in his painterly style and a brighter palette, for which we still admire him as one of the greatest masters of the Dutch Golden Age.

-Pieter Biesboer

1. P. Biesboer, “The identification of a family portrait by Frans Hals recently acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art,” The Burlington Magazine, CLV, 2013, p. 72ff. Pieter Biesboer, ‘The Identification of a Family in a Group Portrait by Frans Hals: New Documents’, in The Group-Portraits of Frans Hals. A Family Reunion, cat. exh. Toledo, Toledo Museum of Art, 13-10-2018 till 6-1-2019; Brussels, KK. Musea voor Schone Kunsten, 2-2-2019 till 28 april 2019, pp. 85-97
2. ONA Haarlem, Arch. nr. 1617, inv. 761, nr. 112.
3. See for more information on the provenance the article of Liesbeth de Belie, ‘ A new Reconstruction of the earliest Family Group-Portrait by Frans Hals’, in: Toledo and Brussels 2018-2019, .p.. 81.
4. See for more information on the provenance Belie in Toledo and Brussels 2018-2019, .p. 82.
5. Idem, p. 83.
6. See Belie in Toledo and Brussels 2018-2019, p. 68, ill. 2.11
7. Seymour Slive, ‘A Proposed Reconstruction of a Family Portrait by Frans Hals’, in Miscellanea I.Q van Regteren Altena, 16/V/1969, Amsterdam 1969, p. 114-116 and 314-315. Seymour Slive, Frans Hals, London 1970, vol. 1, p. 61-68. Claus Grimm, Frans Hals: Entwicklung, Werkanalyse, Gesamtkatalog, Berlin 1972, p. 47-49, ill. 18.
8. Belie in Toledo and Brussels 2018-2019, p. 72-73, ill. III.2.14a.
9. See my article in Toledo and Brussels 2018-2019, p. 96, footnote 15.
10. Haarlem, Noord-Hollands Archief, Begrafenisboek (Burial register) no. 70, fol. 125v.

Sotheby's. Master Paintings Evening Sale, 29 Jan 2020 

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