Listening to Art

08.02: Frans Hals, Isaac Abrahamsz. Massa

Download (MP3).

Listening to Art, by William Denton.

Volume eight, number two: Isaac Abrahamsz. Massa by Frans Hals.

Hello, and welcome to Listening to Art. I’m William Denton.

In this issue once again we return to a favourite work we have heard before, most recently in volume eight number one and before that in volume five number four. In the previous issue I neglected to mention an important fact about this work: the landscape in the background was not painted by Hals but by another Dutch artist, Pieter Molyn.

Molyn was about thirteen years younger than Hals. This painting was done in 1626, the year Molyn turned 31, while Hals turned 43 or 44. About Molyn, The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists says, “he ranks as one of the pioneers of naturalistic landscape painting in Holland [but his] later career was less distinguished, and he seems then to have worked more as a draughtsman than a painter.” In contrast, Frans Hals “was the first great artist of the 17th-century Dutch School and is regarded as one of the most brilliant of all portraitists.”

This is a painting, oil on canvas, 65.1 cm wide by 79.7 cm high.

Now let’s listen to Isaac Abrahamsz. Massa by Frans Hals, recorded at the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto, on 19 November 2020.

Waveform of the field recording.

That was Isaac Abrahamsz. Massa by Frans Hals. I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I did.

For more information and links to things I’ve mentioned, please visit

Listening to Art is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


All web sites accessed as of date of publication.

Art Gallery of Ontario. “Isaac Abrahamsz. Massa.” Art Gallery of Ontario.

Denton, William. “Frans Hals, Isaac Abrahamsz. Massa.” Listening to Art 05, no. 04 (01 July 2019).

⸻. “Frans Hals, Isaac Abrahamsz. Massa.” Listening to Art 08, no. 01 (13 November 2020).

The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists, 4th ed. (2009), s.v. “Frans Hals,”

⸻, 4th ed. (2009), s.v. “Pieter de Molyn,”

Wikipedia, s.v. “Frans Hals,”

⸻, s.v. “Isaac Massa,”

⸻, s.v. “Portrait of Isaac Abrahamsz. Massa,”