Acquisition and Attribution: Big News Day for 17th-Century Artist Frans Hals

Dutch painter Frans Hals died almost 350 years ago, in 1666, but he is having one incredible day, with Christie’s discovering one of his works in the collection of the late actress Elizabeth Taylor, and the Toledo Museum of Art snapping up one of his prized works.

First, the market news: It turns out that Taylor did not even know that she owned a work by the great portraitist, since her painting, Portrait of a Man, Half-Length, had long been attributed to a student or follower of Hals. Christie’s specialist Ben Hall decided differently, christening the piece, which will be sold in the house in January, as an authentic Hals.

The judgment raises the painting’s estimated price tenfold, from $100,000 to $1 million. “There is tremendous sensitivity in the depiction of the sitter’s face,” Mr. Hall told The Los Angeles Times, which has a fascinating story on the research that went into the new attribution of the piece. “When you look at followers or imitators, they don’t capture the sitter as well.”

Over at the Toledo Museum of Art, administrators are preparing to unveil the acquisition of a large Hals painting, Family Portrait in a Landscape, which features a mother and father with seven children. It’s a massive work, measuring 60 inches by 64 inches, and also just a touch creepy. Look at the faces on those children! (“I’d cross the street to avoid meeting most of the people Frans Hals painted,” New Yorker critic Peter Schjeldahl wrote earlier this year. Agreed.) The museum is mum on what it paid for the work, which was purchased from a London dealer with help from the estate of Jill Ford Murray.

Speaking of Hals, there is only one week left to see the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition of his work, which runs through Monday, Oct. 10.

Acquisition and Attribution: Big News Day for 17th-Century Artist Frans Hals