About this artwork

This portrait of a tousled-haired man with large moustache wielding a jawbone makes a startling impact. It also shows Hals's remarkable ability to convey appearance and character vividly. The subject is probably Pieter Verdonck, a prominent member of the most puritanical group of Mennonites in Haarlem, who was aggressive and argumentative. His verbal assaults were considered as strong as the blows that the Biblical character Samson struck with an ass’s jawbone; in fact, a contemporary engraving of the portrait included the inscription ‘Verdonck that outspoken fellow whose jawbone attacks all’. Verdonck was transformed in the nineteenth century with a beret and a wineglass, but these additions were removed in 1928.

  • title: Verdonck
  • accession number: NG 1200
  • artist: Frans HalsDutch (about 1580/85 - 1666)
  • depicted: Pieter Verdonck
  • gallery: Scottish National Gallery(On Display)
  • object type: Painting
  • date created: About 1627
  • measurements: 46.70 x 35.50 cm (framed: 83.40 x 77.50 x 7.60 cm)
  • credit line: Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh (Presented by John J Moubray of Naemoor, 1916)
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Frans Hals

Frans Hals

Hals’s fame rests on his lively and spirited portraits, although he also painted some religious works and genre scenes. He worked almost exclusively in Haarlem, where he developed a remarkable fluency in painting and achieved a sense of immediacy and spontaneity through his animated brushwork. This was invariably combined with animated compositions, especially in group portraits of members of the civic guard and the city’s regents. He lived a long and productive life, and is today known especially for his series of large-scale group portraits, executed for his native Haarlem. His work was much admired by artists such as Manet and the Impressionists in the nineteenth century.