Boy with a Lute

Artist: Frans Hals (Dutch, Antwerp 1582/83–1666 Haarlem)

Date: ca. 1625

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 28 3/8 x 23 1/4 in. (72.1 x 59.1 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Benjamin Altman, 1913

Accession Number: 14.40.604


Inspired by Dutch Caravaggesque painters such as Gerrit van Honthorst and Hendrick ter Brugghen, Hals painted pictures of carefree musicians during the mid- to late 1620s. Here a young man pours a last drop of red wine onto his thumbnail, a signal to the innkeeper that he needs a refill, and to the viewer that (according to a Dutch rhyme of the period) "The glass is empty. Time is up." While Hals's authorship cannot be doubted, the picture's appearance has been affected by changes made by the artist himself and by later restorers. For example, the collar on the shirt and the lute string crossing over the thumb (thus obscuring the gesture's meaning) are not original.