The Laughing Cavalier, by Frans Hals

The Laughing Cavalier, by Frans Hals (c. 1582-1666) The Laughing Cavalier, by Frans Hals (c. 1582-1666) Copyright The Wallace Collection, London.

The Laughing Cavalier (as it is popularly known) is a painting of an unknown man, by the Dutch painter Frans Hals (c. 1582-1666). It dates to 1624 and measures 83 x 67.3 cm. The sitter's doublet (type of jacket) is embroidered with red, yellow and white designs, such as arrows, caducei, cornucopias, knots and flames. 

Some of the embroidered designs, notably the arrows, cornucopias and lover’s knots, have been identified from contemporary emblem books and refer to the pleasures and pains of love. The motifs may thus indicate that the painting was a betrothal portrait. It has also been suggested that the motifs (particularly the caduceus, which is the attribute of the Roman god Mercury) alludes to an occupation in commerce and this suggestion has led to the identification of the sitter as possibly being Tieleman Roosterman, a wealthy Haarlem textile merchant of the early seventeenth century.

The edge of the man’s wide collar and the sleeves of his shirt are decorated with an elaborate form of needle lace, probably reticella.

The painting is now in the Wallace Collection, London, acc. no. P84.


  • DUFFY, Stephen and Jo HEDLEY (2004). The Wallace Collection's Pictures: A Complete Catalogue, London: The Trustees of the Wallace Collection.
  • DUFFY, Stephen et al. The Wallace Collection, London: Scala Publishers Ltd. 2011.
  • INGAMELLS, J. The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Pictures IV, London: The Trustees of The Wallace Collection, 1985, pp. 135-138.

Wallace Collection online catalogue (retrieved 5 June 2016).


Last modified on Monday, 15 August 2016 19:53