The Laughing Cavalier by Frans Hals (1624)

April 13, 2020 at 1:38 pm (Anglophilia, Art)

Yes – It’s Frans Hals’s famous painting of the Laughing Cavalier. Except, chortled our (Osher Life Long Learning) lecturer Nora Hamerman, he is not laughing and he is not a cavalier!

He is obviously not laughing; rather, he is smiling in a somewhat secretive way. (It was considered bad form to portray a subject openly laughing – open mouthed, that is. The condition of the teeth probably had something to do with that proscription.) As for being a cavalier – meaning a knight or some type of nobleman – he was not that, either. Most likely he was a Dutch cloth merchant. Certainly his spectacular doublet is a fine advertisement for his wares!

Nora inquired whether any of us had actually seen this painting. “I have!” I exclaimed, delighted to recall my visit, several years ago, to London’s fabulous Wallace Collection. That’s where The Laughing Cavalier looks out with sly pleasure at delighted visitors.

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