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Portrait of Samuel Ampzing

Frans Hals (Antwerp 1582/83 – 1666 Haarlem)
oil on copper
16.4 x 12.4 cm
signed information

inscribed and dated, center right: “AETAT 40/ ANo 163..”

inventory number

Liedtke, Walter A. “Portrait of Samuel Ampzing.” In The Leiden Collection Catalogue. Edited by Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. New York. (accessed January 16, 2019).

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This exquisite portrait, one of three known works that Frans Hals painted on copper, depicts the Haarlem clergyman, poet, and historian Samuel Ampzing (1590–1632) holding what must be the book for which he is best known: Beschryvinge ende lof der stad Haerlem in Holland (Description and Praise of the City of Haarlem in Holland), published in Haarlem in 1628. The portrait, painted in 1630, was engraved shortly before or after Ampzing’s early death on July 29, 1632, by the prolific Haarlem draftsman and printmaker Jan van de Velde II (1593–1641). The print () reverses the image and slightly reduces its scale. Somewhat later, perhaps about 1640, the Haarlem printmaker Jonas Suyderhoef (ca. 1613–86) reproduced the picture on a larger scale, also reversing the composition (). Both prints feature an encomium in verse signed “P.S.,” for Petrus Scriverius (1576–1660), the historian and Latin scholar who was Ampzing’s collaborator in writing the Beschryvinge and also Hals’s subject in a superb small portrait on wood, dated 1626 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).

Ampzing was the youngest son of a Haarlem clergyman, Johannes Assuerus Ampzingius, who was dismissed from service in 1596 for preaching false views on predestination and other indiscretions. Nonetheless, his employers, the burgomasters of Haarlem, sent his son Samuel to Latin School at the city’s expense and then to Leiden University. Ampzing continued his theological studies at Geneva and Saumur, and in 1616 became a minister in the village of Rijsoord, located between Rotterdam and Dordrecht. He married Catharina van der Wegen, of Leiden, in 1616; she died three months before her husband, in April 1642.

Residing elsewhere did not dampen Ampzing’s enthusiasm for his native city. His first “Praise of Haarlem” (Den Lof van Haerlem), in rhymed verse with classical allusions, dates from 1616 and was written with the help of Scriverius (who himself lived in Leiden from 1593 onward). A second edition of 1621 reflects a shift from a more “pagan” mode to a Christian one, following Ampzing’s appointment as a Haarlem minister in 1619 in St. Bavo’s cathedral. These first two odes to Haarlem, which were unillustrated, were published anonymously, but the 1628 edition proudly bears the author’s name (as announced in his foreword). The new publication included more information about Haarlem and its history, as well as a number of engraved views and plans of the city by, among others, Van de Velde (nine plates) and Pieter Saenredam.

Scriverius, who evidently provided funding for this publication, appended his own treatise, “Laure-crans voor Laurens Coster” (Laurel Wreath for Laurens Coster) to Ampzing’s text. Coster was a Haarlem printer credited locally with the invention of movable type. Also added to this publication was Ampzing’s important essay “Taelbericht der Nederlandsche spellinge” (Treatise on Dutch Spelling). Ampzing and Scriverius were both ardent proponents for the Dutch language, and took particular exception to the use of words adopted from Latin or French.

Hals made small paintings of this type as models for portrait prints, often sent to colleagues in other cities and countries as well as collected locally. His first such portrait may have depicted the preacher Joannes Bogaert (d. 1614) holding an open Bible, but the original is known only from Van de Velde’s engraving of 1628, and it could have been a painting of larger size. In 1617 Hals painted a small oval portrait on copper of Theodorus Schrevelius (1572–1649), a historian and vice-rector of the Latin School in Haarlem. The painting (14.5 x 12 cm), engraved by Jacob Matham in 1618 (and later by Suyderhoef, perhaps after the print), was acquired by the Frans Hals Museum in 2003. Like the 1626 portrait of Scriverius, that of Schrevelius (holding a small book) was originally accompanied by a pendant painting of his wife (known through copies). In each case, only the scholar’s portrait was reproduced in an engraving, but the companion pieces underscore the fact that Hals’s small portraits were intended not solely as models for prints but also as personal or family keepsakes. Hals used a copper support for the second time, as far as we know, in his Portrait of a Man (19.9 x 14.1 cm) of 1627 (Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen, Berlin). As in the Scriverius panel (and portrait prints going back more than thirty years), an illusionistic oval frame opens a window in the picture field, and the sitter’s hand extends through it.

Hals exchanged this kind of realism for quite another in the Ampzing portrait, which in its remarkable luminosity takes advantage of the copper surface in a way not seen in the two earlier examples. The daylight on the textured wall behind the sitter and the highlights on passages such as the near sleeve, the collar, the face and the hand (which seems to move, with the head, in response to the viewer’s interruption) shine and shift with an immediacy that matches that of the sparkling eyes and the completely focused attention of the figure. In the first published description of Hals’s work, which Ampzing penned for the Beschryvinge of 1628, one can almost hear the author exclaim, “How dashingly Frans paints people from life!” Although Ampzing was citing here the great civic guard picture that Hals had just completed the previous year, he could as well have been referring to this small portrait.

The Latin inscription on Van de Velde’s print of 1632 suggests that it might have been commissioned by Ampzing’s congregation in St. Bavo’s (the Grotekerk, or Great Church, of Haarlem), or at least addressed their concerns. For the most part, the stilted verse applauds Ampzing’s stinging criticism of the Catholic Church (for example, in pamphlets published in 1630 and 1632) and does not mention the Beschryvinge or any other of his secular publications. Nevertheless, the book Ampzing holds in the painting strongly resembles the modest scale of the Beschryvinge, not the massive Statenbibel (State Bible). In fact, Hals’s painting may have been intended for reproduction with a different inscription than the one printed in 1632. The Dutch inscription by Scriverius on the later Suyderhoef print again lauds him as a Haarlem teacher but drops all reference to wounded Catholics:

O Haarlem, look upon Ampzing’s appearance, which his city gives us that we may know him: a shepherd true to the church of God, and proficient in the Lord’s work, whose edifying verses and poetry uplift the pious with their deep gravity; rightly is he beloved of all Haarlem’s children and of the Lord’s people.

In this case the inscription clearly implies that the city government commissioned the engraving, which in its scale seems intended for display as well as for private contemplation.

It would be good to know who owned Hals’s portrait of Ampzing after the sitter and his wife died in 1632, but no children from the marriage are known. The earliest trace of the picture is its reported acquisition in The Hague by Richard Trench, 2nd Earl of Clancarty, during his service there as British ambassador (1813–23). The painting descended in his family until 1892, when it was sold at auction in London; by 1905 it was in the eclectic collection of the railroad entrepreneur Sir William van Horne in Montreal. A more distinguished collector of Dutch pictures, Lord Harold Samuel, owned the portrait between 1966 and 1975 (his collection was given to the City of London in 1987), and it passed through two New York collections before entering the present one.

- Walter A. Liedtke
  • [Said to have been acquired from Johannes van Eijk, The Hague, ca. 1820].
  • Richard Trench, 2nd Earl of Clancarty, Garbally, County Galway, thence by descent (sale, Christie’s, London, 12 March 1892, no. 32 [700 guineas to Lesser, who sold it to Wallace]).
  • Sir William C. Van Horne (1843–1915), Montreal, by 1893, by descent to Miss L. Adaline Van Horne, Montreal, by 1936, by descent to Mrs. William Covenhoven Van Horne, 1956 [with Edward Speelman, London, 1966].
  • Lord Harold Samuel, Wych Cross [Edward Speelman, London, 1975].
  • Lowenthal Collection, New York, 1975–96 [Bob Haboldt, New York, 1996].
  • Landau Collection, New York, 1996–2007 (Sotheby’s, London, 5 December 2007, no. 27 [Johnny van Haeften, London, 2007]).
  • From whom acquired by the present owner in 2007.
  • Montreal, Art Association of Montreal (now Montreal Museum of Fine Arts), “Seventeenth Loan Exhibition of Paintings in Oils and Water Colours,” 1893, no. 34 [lent by Sir William C. Van Horne].
  • New York, The Union League Club, “Loaned Paintings,” 11 and 12 February, 1897, no. 11 [lent by Sir William C. Van Horne].
  • Montreal, Art Association of Montreal (now Montreal Museum of Fine Arts), “Paintings by Rembrandt and the Great Dutch Painters of the XVII Century,” 1906, no. 5 [lent by Sir William C. Van Horne].
  • New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, “The Hudson-Fulton Celebration,” 1909, no. 25 [lent by Sir William Van Horne, Montreal].
  • Atlanta, High Museum of Art, “Masterpieces of the Dutch Golden Age,” 24 September–10 November 1985, no. 29 [lent by the Lowenthal Collection].
  • New York, National Academy of Design, “Dutch and Flemish Paintings from New York Private Collections,” 1988, no. 24  [lent by the Lowenthal Collection].
  • Washington, National Gallery of Art, “Frans Hals,” 1 October–31 December 1989, London, Royal Academy of Arts, 13 January–8 April 1990, Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum, 11 May–22 July 1990,  no. 40  [lent by the Lowenthal Collection].
  • Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, “Copper as Canvas: Two Centuries of Masterpiece Paintings on Copper, 1575–1775,” 19 December 1998–28 February 1999, Kansas City, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 28 March–14 June 1999, The Hague, Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis, 26 June–22 August 1999, no. 25 [lent by the Landau Collection].
  • Norfolk, The Chrysler Museum of Art, June 2009–August 2010, on loan with the permanent collection [lent by the present owner].
  • Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, August 2010–July 2011, on loan with the permanent collection [lent by the present owner].
  • New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, “Frans Hals in the Metropolitan Museum,” 26 July–10 October 2011 [lent by the present owner].
  • Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, November 2011–February 2013, on loan with the permanent collection [lent by the present owner].
  • Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum, “Frans Hals: Eye to Eye with Rembrandt, Rubens and Titian,” 23 March–28 July 2013, no. 44 [lent by the present owner].
  • Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, “Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Their Contemporaries,” 26 October 2014–4 January 2015; Birmingham, Birmingham Museum of Art, 4 February–26 April 2015, no. 16 [lent by the present owner].
  • Paris, Museé du Louvre, “Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection: The Age of Rembrandt,” 22 February–22 May 2017 [lent by the present owner].
  • Beijing, National Museum of China, “Rembrandt and His Time: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection,” 17 June–3 September 2017 [lent by the present owner].
  • Shanghai, Long Museum, West Bund, “Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals in the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection,” 23 September 2017–25 February 2018 [lent by the present owner].
  • Moscow, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, “The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer: Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection,” 28 March 2018–22 July 2018 [lent by the present owner].
  • St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum, “The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer: Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection,” 5 September 2018–13 January 2019 [lent by the present owner].
  • The Union League Club of New York. Loaned Paintings: February the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth. Exh. cat. New York, The Union League Club. New York, 1897, no. 11.
  • Moes, Ernst Wilhelm. Iconographia Batava: Beredeneerde lijst van geschiderde en gebeeld-houwde portretten van Noord-Nederlanders in vorige eeuwen. 2 vols. Amsterdam, 1897–1905, 2:21, no. 149.
  • Conway, Martin. “Sir William van Horne’s Collection at Montreal.” The Connoisseur 12 (1905): 137, 140.
  • Moes, Ernst Wilhelm  Frans Hals, sa vie et son oeuvre. Translated by Jean de Boschere. Brussels, 1909, no. 12.
  • Valentiner, Wilhelm R. The Hudson-Fulton Celebration: Catalogue of an Exhibition Held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2 vols.  New York, 1909, 1:26, no. 25.
  • Hofstede de Groot, Cornelis.  A Catalogue Raisonné of the Works of the Most Eminent Dutch Painters of the Seventeenth Century Based on the Work of John Smith. Edited and translated by Edward G. Hawke, 8 vols. London, 1907–28, 3:48–49, no. 151. Orginially published as Beschreibendes und kritisches Verzeichnis der Werke der hervorragendsten höllandischen Maler des XVII. Jahrhunderts. 10 vols. Esslingen and Paris, 1907–28.
  • Von Bode, Wilhelm, and Moritz Julius Binder. Frans Hals: His Life and Work. 2 vols. Berlin, 1914, 1:39, 73, no. 128, fig. 72.
  • Mayer, August Liebmann “Die Sammlung Sir William van Horne in Montreal.” Der Cicerone 8 (1916): 6, no. 2.
  • Valentiner, Wilhelm R.  Frans Hals, des Meisters Gemalde in 322 Abbildungen. Stuttgart, 1923, 82, 312.
  • Dülberg, Frans.  Frans Hals ein Leben und ein Werk. Stuttgart,, 100.
  • Valentiner, Wilhelm R. Frans Hals Paintings in America. Westport, 1936, 34.
  • Gratama, Gerrit David.  Frans Hals.  The Hague, 1943, 55, no. 38.
  • Hubbard, Robert Hamilton. European Paintings in Canadian Collections: Earlier Schools. Toronto, 1956, 151.
  • Grimm, Claus.  Frans Hals: Entwicklung, Werkanalyse, Gesamtkatalog. Berlin, 1972, no. A18b.
  • Slive, Seymour.  Frans Hals. 3 vols. New York, 1970–74, 1:5–7, 125, 140; 2: fig. 139; 3:7, no. 8, 46, no. 76.
  • Nash, John Malcolm.  The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer: Dutch Painting in the Seventeenth Century. New York, 1972, 18.
  • Grimm, Claus, and E.C. Montagni. L’opera comlpleta di Frans Hals. Classici dell’Arte. Milan, 1974, 95–96, no. 73.
  • Grimm, Claus and E.C. Montagni. Tout l’oeuvre peint de Frans Hals. Les classiques de l’art. Translated by Simon Darses, no. 73. Paris, 1976.
  • Van Thiel, Pieter J. J. “De betekenis van het portret van Verdonok door Frans Hals.” Oud Holland 94 (1980): 118.
  • Shore, Leslie, ed. Small Paintings from the Masters: Masterpieces Reproduced in Actual Size. 3 vols New York, 1981, 2: no. 114.
  • Duparc, Frits J. Masterpieces of the Dutch Golden Age. Exh. cat. Atlanta, High Museum of Art. Atlanta, 1985, 71, no. 29.
  • Adams, Ann Jensen, and Egbert Haverkamp-Begeman.  Dutch and Flemish Paintings from New York Private Collections. New York, 1988, 73, no. 24.
  • Middelkoop, Norbert, and Anne van Grevenstein. Frans Hals: leven werk restauratie. Amsterdam, 1989, 24–25, fig. G.
  • Slive, Seymour, ed. Frans Hals. Exh. cat. Washington, National Gallery of Art; London, Royal Academy of Arts; Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum. Munich and New York, 1989, 246–47, no. 40.
  • Grimm, Claus.  Frans Hals: The Complete Work. Translated by Jurgen Riehle. New York. 1990, 34, 36. Originally published as from Frans Hals: das Gesamtwerk. Stuttgart and Zürich, 1989.
  • Schulze, Sabine, ed.  Leselust: Niederländische Malerie von Rembrandt bis Vermeer. Exh. cat. Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle. Frankfurt, 1993, 206, under no. 36, n. 5.
  • Van der Ree-Scholtens, Gineke F., et al. Deugd boven geweld: een geschiedenis van Haarlem, 1245–1995. Verloren, 1995, 224, no. 10.3.
  • Van Thiel, Pieter J. J.  “For Instruction and Betterment: Samuel Ampzing’s Mirror of the Vanity and Unrestrainedness of Our Age.” Ten Essays for a Friend: E. de Jongh 65. Simiolus 24 (1996): 96 n. 66.
  • Komanecky, Michael, ed. Copper as Canvas: Two Centuries of Masterpiece Paintings on Copper, 1575–1775.  Exh. cat.  Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum; Kansas City, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; The Hague, Royal Cabinet of Paintings Mauritshuis. New York, 1999, 202–4, no. 25.
  • Liedtke, Walter.  “Frans Hals: Style and Substance.”  In The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, (Summer 2011), 37, 40, no. 40.
  • Haboldt, Bob. Singular Vision: Haboldt & Co.’s Old Master Paintings and Drawings since 1983. Amsterdam, 2012, 353.
  • Atkins, Christopher D.M. The Signature Style of Frans Hals: Painting, Subjectivity, and the Market in Early Modernity. Amsterdam, 2012, cover illustration, 89–90, 153–154, 234, 245, n. 44, 268 n. 8, and 275 n. 108.
  • Abbing, Michiel Roscam. “Portrait of Samuel Ampzing.” In Frans Hals: Eye to Eye with Rembrandt, Rubens and Titian. Edited by Anna Tummers and Christopher D. M. Atkins, 139, 155, no. 44. Exh. Cat., Haarlem, Frans Hals Museum. Rotterdam, 2013.
  • Weller, Dennis P. Small Treasures: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and Their Contemporaries. Exh. cat. Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art; Birmingham, Birmingham Museum of Art. Raleigh, 2014, 17, 24, 105–7, no. 16.
  • Surh, Dominique.  “Portrait of Samuel Ampzing.” In Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection: The Age of Rembrandt. Edited by Blaise Ducos and Dominique Surh, 80, no. 30. Exh. cat. Paris, Musée du Louvre. Paris, 2017.
  • Yeager-Crasselt, Lara. “Rembrandt and His Time: China and the Dutch Republic in the Golden Age.” In Rembrandt and His Time: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection. Edited by Lara Yeager-Crasselt, 9; 14, no. 60. Translated by Li Ying. Exh. cat. Beijing, National Museum of China. Beijing, 2017.
  • Yeager-Crasselt, Lara. “Portrait of Samuel Ampzing.” In Rembrandt and His Times, Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection. Edited by Lara Yeager-Crasselt, 140–41; 186, no. 60. Translated by Li Ying. Exh. cat. Beijing, National Museum of China. Beijing, 2017.
  • Wang, Jia. “Dutch Painting in Golden Age.” In Journal of National Museum of China 169, no. 8 (2017): 39.
  • Long Museum, West Bund. Rembrandt, Vermeer and Hals in the Dutch Golden Age: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection. Exh. cat. Shanghai, Long Museum, West Bund. Shanghai, 2017, 148–49.
  • Yeager-Crasselt, Lara. “The Leiden Collection and the Dutch Golden Age.” In The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer: Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection. Edited by Polina Lyubimova, 21; 32. Translated by Daria Babich and Daria Kuzina. Exh. cat. Moscow, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts; St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum. Moscow, 2018.
  • Yeager-Crasselt, Lara. “Portrait of Samuel Ampzing.” In The Age of Rembrandt and Vermeer: Masterpieces of The Leiden Collection. Edited by Polina Lyubimova, 224–25; 248, no. 79. Translated by Daria Babich and Daria Kuzina. Exh. cat. Moscow, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts; St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum. Moscow, 2018.
  • Eekhout, Marianne. Werk, bid & bewonder: Een nieuwe kijk op kunst en calvinisme. Exh. cat. Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum. Dordrecht, 2018, 65–66, illustrated.

The support, a rectangular-shaped sheet of copper, has been inset in a shallow recess routed into the front surface of a stained and varnished rectangular-shaped oak panel that is slightly larger than the copper panel in both directions. Although the copper reverse is obscured by the wood panel, a few areas of green copper corrosion are visible along the painted image, such as along the figure’s lower lip. There are labels but no wax seals, import stamps or inscriptions along the wood panel reverse.

The lowest continuous layer is a thin, strongly colored, transparent red-orange, apparently chosen in anticipation of its contribution to an effect visible in the finished painting.

The paint has been applied thinly but opaquely, with considerable vigor of handling indicative of Hals’s portraits executed after 1630, even those crafted on a small scale. The beard was executed by applying tones of gray, then drawing lines though the wet paint with a fine point, exposing red-orange underlayer lines, to suggest the whiskers, and finished off with fine lines of paint to evoke volume and highlights.

The surface brushwork is primarily wet-into-wet, with emphatic darks, enlivening color, and highlights added. The evidence of a multilayered painting process suggests Hals executed the picture in stages, despite the suggestion of speed conveyed by the wet-into-wet passages. Inconsistent overlaps of figure and background paint indicate adjustments and corrections to the outline. This feature is typical of Hals, who set the contours of his subjects only in the last stages of the painting process. Also typical of Hals is the use of short strokes of umber to demarcate spaces between forms, such as the fingers and lips.

The painting is unsigned but inscribed in dark paint along the background, center right.

No underdrawing or compositional changes are readily apparent in infrared images; in the X-radiograph, the copper support absorbs the radiation and dominates the image produced so only the rectangular shape of the copper shows.

The painting was cleaned and restored in 1995, before its acquisition, and remains in a good state of preservation.


  1. Jan van de Velde II after Frans Hals, Samuel Ampzing, 1632, 200 x 123 mm, engraving, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, RP-P-1898-A-20197.
  2. Jonas Suyderhoef after Frans Hals, Samuel Ampzing, ca 1640, engraving, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Rosenwald Collection, 1943.3.8072.
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