Frans Hals’ Portrait of a Woman, painted in 1635, is a celebrated artwork of the Dutch Golden Age. The Baroque-style painting depicts a woman confidently sitting at a table with a beer jug and an owl. She is dressed plainly in a brown gown with white collar and coif, making her seem approachable yet dignified. Hals’ blunt and traditional pose objectively outlines the woman’s features without exaggeration.
The confidence exuded by the portrait derives from the woman’s secure position within society. Hals was known for his portraits that captured the essence of individual’s personalities, unlike other painters known for creating idealized effects on their subjects such as Vermeer or Rembrandt. Portrait of a Woman was likely one of two paintings made when he was in his early eighties.
It is important to note that Frans Hals is second only to Vermeer or Rembrandt when it comes to Dutch Golden Age painters. With this reputation preceding him, it’s no wonder why this work remains so prominent today alongside other famous Dutch paintings like Judith Leyster’s self-portrait at her easel housed at the same National Gallery of Art location often featured right next to this particular piece by Hals on museum tours around Amsterdam and elsewhere across Europe where both are prominently showcased together as masterpieces from that era.