Frans Hals’ Portrait of an Elderly Man dates back to c. 1627-30 and depicts a distinguished-looking elderly man standing with authority. It is believed to be Cornelis Backer based on his resemblance to another portrait of Backer in a group painting by Hals. The portrait is thought to be part of a pair, with the other painting being Portrait of an Elderly Man standing behind a chair at the Frick Collection in New York.
Hals’ portraits were often commissioned as pendants, linking two works through composition or subject matter. The technique used in this painting exhibits Rubens’ influence; the subtle mixtures and confident brushwork demonstrate Hals’ skillful hands even when creating content beyond his signature lively and joyful genre pieces.
What we gather from further reading about Hals is that he was the first Master of the Dutch Golden Age art movement, which prioritized naturalistic portrayal over traditionally posed Renaissance-style paintings typical in Western Europe’s elite circles during earlier times. As such, his creative energy and lifelike character depictions played an important role in defining portraiture as a separate genre during this period.