Friday, January 6, 2012

They’re Back: Two Small Portraits by Hals Join the Big Boys

Hals, Anna van der Aar, oil on wood, 1626
Two small, magnetic portraits by Frans Hals that have been in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum since 1929 are at last on permanent display.

Hals, Petrus Scriverius
In the museum’s huge, 228-work “Age of Rembrandt” show in 2007, these roughly 9-by-6.5-inch paintings of Petrus Scriverius and his wife, Anna van der Aar, were unexpected standouts – unexpected because they are so darn beautiful yet were hardly ever on view.

At the time, I asked curator Walter Liedke when we might see them again, and he said, “The small works will be back.”   When the Rembrandt show was taken down, though, and the Dutch galleries rehung, these two were nowhere to be seen.

Four years later, they were stars again, this time in Met’s Frans Hals show.

Again I asked Liedke about them, and he said they would soon be on permanent view in a freestanding display case in the Rembrandt-Hals gallery.

And now they are, holding their own among some of the most famous Dutch paintings in the Met’s collection, including Rembrandt’s “Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer.”

The Hals portraits newly installed
The two portraits are on one side of the case.  On the other is a small night scene, "An Evening School," by Gerrit Dou.

Images:  First and second from the Metropolitan Museum website.
Text and third photo Copyright 2012 Laura Gilbert