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Het portret van Jacobus Hendriksz. Zaffius door Frans Hals

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image of Oud Holland - Journal for Art of the Low Countries

The bust of Jacobus Zaffius (figs. 1 and 2) in Haarlem's Frans Hals Museum was discovered in 1919. Since that time it has been regarded as a fragment of a large portrait of Zaffius painted by Hals in 1611 and believed to be lost. Jan van de Velde made a print of the missing portrait in 1630 (fig. 3). Recently it emerged that the panel on which the bust is painted is bevelled all round, and that the ground and paint continue over the edges. This means that it cannot be a fragment. The theory that Hals himself painted the copy is untenable. The weak design and indifferent pictorial quality suggest that the painting is a contemporary anonymous copy. An attempt to identify the companion portraits of a man and a woman in Birmingham and Chatsworth (figs. 4 and 5), variously dated as 1610/11 and 1617/18, with a view to establishing their true dates, has failed. It was hoped that if discovered to have been painted in or around 1611, they might have served as material for a stylistic comparison. The investigation yielded only a few supplementary heraldic (fig. 6) and genealogical data. Research in the Haarlem municipal archives uncovered new information pertaining to Zaffius' financial capital and family connections. As archdeacon of the diocese of Haarlem and provost of the Haarlem chapter, Jacobus Hendriksz. Zaffius (Amsterdam 1534-1618 Haarlem) experienced the turbulent history of the Dutch Catholic church during the birth of the Republic. Towards the end of his life he added a few houses to a recently founded bofje of almshouses (fig. 9). Van de Velde's print was made in 1630, when Catholicism had established itself in the Dutch archdiocese and embarked on the documentation of its own history in the form of, among others, portraits of prominent figures of the past.


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