Portrait of Isaac Abrahamsz. Massa
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Arty Fact

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Frans Hals’ Portrait of Isaac Abrahamsz Massa, along with his other portraits of the man are some of the most wholesome pieces of work in art history.

In the vast oceans of paintings of artist’s lovers posed as half-nude figures from the Bible, and portraits of rich patrons illustrated to make them look more attractive than they actually were, here we have a simple and honest piece one man painted of his bro.

Frans Hals was an extremely talented Dutch painter who during his time was only rivaled by Rembrandt. He left his mark on the world by painting in a uniquely loose style that some mark as a precursor to Impressionism. The sitter Isaac Abrahamsz was a successful grain trader who bore witness to the two year famine that killed off nearly a third of the Russian population, and the era of political upheaval that followed. However, this portrait isn’t about those things.

This is more like a candid snapshot that one person takes of another for no other reason than one friend wanting to try and capture the raw and jovial humanity radiating from his buddy. Frans painted at least five pictures of Isaac, the most famous being in their native country at the Rijksmuseum. All of these images are amazingly filterless. In each, Isaac is displayed with all his blemishes - his nose is always too big, his face is always too round, and his mustache always looks ridiculous, yet despite this he is always framed in a sincerely loving way. Of the few things we know about the artist and his subject, one fact is that Isaac had gone to see Frans’ son’s baptism, and oddly this fact perfectly defines the intimate and yet everyday relationship we see here.

For all we know Frans could have invited Isaac while painting this picture, subsequently capturing his friend in a pose that eternally says, “Yeah sure man, I don’t have anything else going on.” And honestly is there any sentence in existence that is more welcomed than that?




  1. Descargue, Pierre “Frans Hals” Encyclopædia Britannica, 02/06/19
  2. “Frans Hals Complete Works”, date accessed 07/14/19
  3. San Diego Museum of Art Contributor “Portrait of Isaac Abrahamsz. Massa” San Diego Museum of Art, 01/27/16
  4. Upclosed. “Isaac Massa”, date accessed 07/14/19