The coat-of-arms and crest of the Roosterman or Rosterman family, originating in the Province of Utrecht, are given by J.B. Riestap, Armorial Gnral, II, 1887, p. 602: 'aux 1 et 4 d'azur trois flches d'or, poss en pals ranges en fasce, les pointes en haut; aux 2 et 3 de gu. au chef d'arg. Bn. d'azur et d'or. C:(=Crest) un homme iss., arm d'azur, le bassinet du mme somm de deux pl. d'aut. au nat., tenant de sa main dextre une flche d'or, en pal, la pointe en haut, la sen. appuye sur sa hanche'.
Groen and Hendrick have reported that present in the coat-of-arms is Prussian blue, a pigment not available until around 1720. The coat-of-arms must therefore not be the work of Hals and not contemporary with the execution of the picture. This would prima facie invalidate the identification of the sitter. If the coat-of-arms in the now separated pendant (Slive, op. cit., 1972, no. 74) depicting the sitter's wife (in which her family's arms are quartered with those of Roosterman) proved to be original and if the two works could indeed be shown to have been pendants, then the coat-of-arms could be a later, but reliable, means of identifying the sitter. This could anyway have been the case, as it would have taken a sophisticated faker thus to create the identities of a husband and wife on one or two otherwise anonymous portraits of the same date. And this work would have had to have been done a fair time before Gsell's ownership of the male portrait (and while the two pictures were still united), for the coat-of-arms seems already to have been overpainted by the time of the Gsell sale in 1872. Thus a good case can be made for proposing that the coat-of-arms was added perhaps at the behest of a knowledgeable descendant. This remains conjecture; but the identification of the sitter is here retained, with the caveat that the coat-of-arms was added not less than about 100 years after Hals's execution of the portrait; it was not removed during recent cleaning at the Kunhistorisches Museum, see Dietrich, op. cit., fig. 6.
In two other cases where coats-of-arms on pendant portraits by Hals have also been shown to contain Prussian blue, they correctly identify the sitters, see Slive, op. cit., 1988/89, nos. 18 and 19, and 41 and 42.
This sitter is fashionably dressed in black doublet and slashed sleeve, and breeches, holding a large beaver hat; his doublet is decorated with metal-tagged nestels. His wide falling rabat or collar makes possible his wearing shoulder length hair, a fashion soon to be the subject of a great controversy that was dubbed the 'Dispute of the Locks'.
The present masterpiece was not generally known, until Baldass in 1951 published the identification of the sitter, made possible by Sebastian Isepp's cleaning of the picture in the mid-1930s, which had revealed the coat-of-arms (which however is not original). Perhaps the overpaint and discoloured varnish had also obscured the great aesthetic quality of the portrait.
Biesboer has published information concerning the presumed sitter and his family: Tieleman Roosterman was 'an extremely rich merchant', whose parents had settled in Haarlem between 1597-1599; his trade was 'fine linen and silk fabrics', and he and his wife, Catherina Brugman, owned 'a large residence the Smedestraat' in Haarlem. Tieleman was to be named as one of the executors of the will of Willem van Heythuysen, who had earlier been the full-length sitter of another masterpiece by the artist (Mnich, Alte Pinacothek, inv. no. 14101; Slive, op. cit., 1974, no. 31).
One of six dated portraits of 1634, the present work was painted when Hals was at the height of his powers but not yet mid-way through what was to prove to be a long career. He had already executed probably at least four of his civic guard group portraits and had begun work on a fifth.
Baldass drew attention to the portrait's 'unusually direct and forceful effect ...'; he remarked with some condescension, that it is 'one of the most splendid representations of the self-confident, rich, slightly parvenue, middle class [sic] Dutchmen'. Slive, the most authoritative and perceptive connoisseur and critic of the artist, averred that '[it] is almost as impressive as the much better known full-length of Heythuysen, which was painted almost a decade earlier. The expression of Roosterman's cocksureness is more direct and has been achieved with simpler means ... We are confronted only by the man and his decorative coat-of-arms ...'. To this might now be added that Hals and the sitter seem to have established a dynamic rapport, as a result of which the artist recognised and expressed the sitter's seeming pugnacious directness and joie de vivre. Groen and Hendricks, op. cit., p. 119, allude to the apparent rapidity with which the portrait was executed.
By 1872 when this masterpiece was offered as one of several, then largely unappreciated, works by Hals in the possession of the well-known Viennese collector, F.J. Gsell (including the following lot), the artist's reputation had to a degree already been rescued from obscurity from which it had long suffered, thanks largely to the advocacy of the French critic, Thor-Burger. Seven years earlier at an auction in Paris, the Laughing Cavalier had been bought by Lord Hertford for a sum considered as 'one of Lord Hertford's crazy extravagances' (see Frances Jowell, 'The Rediscovery of Frans Hals' in Slive, op. cit., 1989/90, pp. 66-69, and note 58, quoting from The Times Literary Supplement, 30 July 1914). He had been bidding against Baron James de Rothschild; and the acquisition of the present work and two others by Hals (lots ) by his Austrian cousin displays the family's great interest in the Haarlem artist, soon to be recognised as the 'true predecessor of the realism beginning [then] to come into favour' (see Jowell, loc. cit.). Jowell, op. cit., pp. 71-78, reviews the interest that leading artists took in the work of Frans Hals from Manet and Courbet to Whistler and Sargent; but most notable is the interest taken in Hals by his fellow countryman, Vincent van Gogh; in 1888 van Gogh wrote to Emile Bernard: 'He [Hals] does not do greater things than that [=the paintings he had recently seen and described]; but it is certainly worth as much as Dante's Paradise and the Michelangelos and the Raphaels and even the Greeks. It is as beautiful as Zola, healthier as well as merrier, but as true to life, because his epoch was healthier and less dismal' (see Jowell, op. cit., p. 77).
Portrait of Tieleman Roosterman, three-quarter-length, in a black doublet and breeches, with a white ruff and cuffs, his hat in his right hand
Oil on canvas
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv. no. 9009, since 1947.
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Art Treasures from the Vienna Collections, 1949-1950, no. 43.
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Hollnder des 17 Jahrhunderts, 1953, no. 43.
Rome, Palazzo della Esposizione, Mostra di Pittura Olandese del Seicento, 1954, no. 45.
Milan, Palazzo Reale, Mostra di Pittura Olandese del Seicento, 1954, no. 52.
Haarlem, Frans Halsmuseum, Frans Hals, 1962, no. 34.
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Restaurierte Gemlde, Die Restaurierwerksttte der Gemldegalerie des Kunsthistorischen Museums, etc., 1996/1997, no. 12.
46 x 34 in. (117 x 87 cm.)
G.F. Waagen, Die vornehmsten Kunstdenkmler in Wien, I, 1866, p.318, when in the Gsell collection.'
W. Bode, Studien zur Geschichte der hollndischen Malerei, Brunswick, 1883, p. 89, note to no. 126 (not seen).
E.W. Moes, Frans Hals, sa Vie et son Oeuvre, translated by J. de Bosschere, Brussels, 1909, no. 131 (not seen).
C. Hofstede de Groot, A Catalogue Raisonn, etc., III, 1910, p. 104, no. 354 (not seen).
T.von Frimmel, Lexikon der Wiener Gemldesammlungen, II, 1914, p. 82 (for Gsell) and p. 86.
L. Baldass, 'Two Male Portraits by Frans Hals', The Burlington Magazine, XCIII, 1951, pp. 181-2, and fig. 2.
S. Slive, catalogue of the exhibition, Frans Hals, Frans Halsmuseum, 1962, p. 34, no. 34.
G. Heinz and F. Klauner, Katalog der Gemldegalerie, II, Teil, Vlamen, Hollnder, Deutsche, Franzosen, Vienna, 1963, no. 182.
S. Slive, catalogue of the exhibition, Frans Hals, Frans Halsmuseum, 1962, p. 34, no. 34.
S. Slive, Frans Hals, Volume One: Text, 1970, pp. 115-116, and Volume Two: Plates, pl. 154.
C. Grimm, Frans Hals, etc., 1972, p. 202, no. 67.
K. Demus, ed., Katalog der Gemldegalerie, Hollndische Meister des 15., 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts, Vienna, 1972, p. 37.
S. Slive, Frans Hals, Volume Three: Catalogue, 1974, p. 54, no. 93. C. Grimm, and E.C. Montagni, L'Opera Completa di Frans Hals, Milan, 1974, no. 90, fig. XXXIII.
C. Grimm, Frans Hals, Stuttgart-Zurich, 1989, pp. 83 and 281, no. 76, illustrated.
C. Grimm, Frans Hals, The Complete Work, New York, 1989, p. 139, and p. 281, no. 76, illustrated.
C. Brandsttter, ed., Die Gemlde des Kunsthistorisches Museum in Wien, Verzeichnis der Gemlde, Vienna, 1991, no. 9009, p. 65, fig. 507.
P. Biesboer, 'The Burghers of Haarlem', etc., in S. Slive, catalogue of the exhibition, Frans Hals, Washington, D.C., London, Haarlem, 1990, pp. 31-2, fig. 10.
B. M. du Mortier, 'Costume in Frans Hals', in ibid., p. 56.
K. Groen and E. Hendricks, 'Frans Hals: a Technical Examination', in ibid., pp. 119, 121, 124 and 127, pl. VIIIY.
H. Dietrich, catalogue of the exhibition, Restaurierte Gemlde, Die Restaurierwerksttte der Gemldegalerie des Kunsthistorischen Museums, etc., 1996-1997, pp. 83-84, no. 12.
Friedrich Jacob Gsell (b. 1811 or 1812 in Alsace, settled in Vienna circa 1850, died 1871), by 1866; (+) sale Plach, Knstlerhause, Vienna, 14 March 1872 (and successive days), lot 40, 'Ein bravourstck des genialen Meisters' (sold for 15,200 fl. to Plach, probably on behalf of Baron Anselm von Rothschild).
Rothschild inv. no. AR866.