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Object details

Stephanus Geraerdts, Alderman in Haarlem
114,5 × 86,5 cm
Inventory number: 

More about this work

This portrait of Stephanus Geraerdts has been separated from that of his wife Isabella Coymans since 1886. The sundering of that marital bond is not only a pity for emotional reasons, for it is only when one places the two portraits side by side that one sees how masterfully Frans Hals depicted the loving relationship between man and wife. In the missing painting, which is now in the Rothschild Collection, Isabella is handing her husband a rose with her right hand. In the Antwerp canvas Stephanus has just taken off his right glove to receive that symbol of her affection. They are exchanging an intense gaze as they smile at each other.
Steven Gérard, or Stephanus Geraerdts, was born in Amsterdam and died in Haarlem in 1671. When he married Isabella on 4 October 1644, he was living on fashionable Keizersgracht in Amsterdam. He later became a councillor and alderman in Haarlem. Isabella came from Haarlem, and died on 7 October 1689. Her family belonged to the upper class of the Dutch Republic. Her maternal grandfather was successively ambassador in England, Denmark and Venice. Her father was Lord of the Manor of Bruchem and Nieuwwaal, and her uncles Balthasar and Johannes Coymans were the richest bankers in Amsterdam. Stephanus and Isabella lived at Koningstraat 18 in Haarlem.
The paintings do not appear to have been wedding portraits, because their style belongs to a more mature phase in Hals’s oeuvre. They are usually dated around 1650-1652. He also painted the portrait of other members of the Coymans family, among them Isabella’s parents, Joseph Coymans and Dorothea Berck (Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut, and Baltimore Museum of Art). Hals’s dandy-like portrait of Willem Coenraetsz Coymans, the son of a distant cousin of Joseph, is in the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
The painting of Stephanus Geraerdts and his wife mark a high point in the artist’s oeuvre. Stephanus’s richly embroidered clothing, cuff and glove is rendered with the daring straight brushstrokes that are so typical of Hals. The freedom of manner later had a great impact on the French Impressionists.

Acquisition history

purchase: Maison Bourgeois frères, Paris, 1886

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