Portrait of a Couple

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License of this image: CC-BY-SA
License of original image: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam - Public Domain

By: Frans Hals (1580 - 1666)
Created: c. 1622, Collection: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands Rights: Public Domain

This is a great recreation to do if you're in a beautiful historic garden! Experiment with what you can use as a ruff and make sure you can sit comfortably close to each other. The person on the right should be able to rest their arm on the other person's shoulder easily.

Frans Hals the Elder was a  Dutch Golden Age painter who played an important role in the evolution of 17th century group portraiture. His loose painterly brushwork helped introduce a livelier style to Dutch art.

He is best known for his portraits, particularly those of wealthy citizens. However, his pictures portray the various social classes in the Netherlands, from fishwives to mayors with little idealism, revealing his sitters personalities through poses and facial expressions.

This painting probably depicts Isaac Abrahamsz Massa and Beatrix van der Laen. The pose the married couple adopt in this painting was highly unusual at the time – it’s rare to see paintings depicting married couples sitting so closely together. This casualness is probably explained by the fact that they were friends with Frans, and the portrait was commissioned to commemorate their marriage in April 1622.  The love this couple obviously feel for each other is referenced in the setting. To the right of them is a garden of love and to the left an eryngium thistle, known in Dutch as ‘mannentrouw’, or male fidelity.