Saint John the Evangelist

Object Details


Saint John the Evangelist


Frans Hals (Dutch, 1582/1583 - 1666)




about 1625 - 1628


Oil on canvas


70.5 x 55.2 cm (27 3/4 x 21 3/4 in.)

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Observed by his symbol, the eagle, and poised to write God's words, Saint John looks up for divine inspiration, which he receives as brilliant light. Saint John, the Galilean fisherman who became one of Christ's apostles, is traditionally considered the author of the Gospel according to John and of the Bible's Book of Revelation. Hals used only light and handling of paint to create the lifelike, fleeting quality that made his portraits so prized. He chose a dramatic moment, then captured it with bold, spontaneous brushwork. A contemporary reported that Hals called the final touches he made to his canvases "putting in his handwriting"--adding the trademark highlights that give his pictures much of their sparkle.

Treasured by both artists and royalty, Saint Johnwas owned by painter Gerard Hoet and later by Catherine the Great of Russia.

- 1760

Gerard Hoet, Dutch, 1648 - 1733 [sold, Hoet sale, Franken, Thol, The Hague, August 28, 1760, lot 134 (set of four pictures sold together), to Jan Yver.]

1760 -

Jan Yver (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

- 1771

Private Collection [sold, Rietmuler, The Hague, April 13, 1771, lot 35 (set of four pictures sold together).]


Baron F.W. van Borck, sold to Jan Yver, 1771.

1771 -

Jan Yver (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

by 1773 - 1812

State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg, Russia), the set of four acquired for Catherine II for the Imperial Hermitage by 1773; transferred to Tavricheskaia Geberniia (Tauride), 1812.


Tavricheskaia Geberniia (Tauride) (Crimea, Russia)

- 1997

Private Collection (Spain) [sold, Sotheby's, London, July 1997, through Pyms Gallery (London, England) to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]

Rembrandt's Late Religious Portraits (January 30 to August 28, 2005)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 7 to August 28, 2005
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