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.

Frans Hals

Frans Hals