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Little Anna (1633)


    Rare Lost Old Master oil painting
       by Frans Hals 1584 -1666

     Anna's Song
         The Young Girl, Thought to be a Queen,
         Cries from the Grave.

      By Tom Ray, GloTagŪ Press, 2006


This lost old master oil painting was found in a safe-deposit box in a small town in Texas.  It has been there since1979.   The last man to know who she was, besides her present owner,  was Sir Edward John Pointer, (1836-1919). She will soon be sold and set free to continue her travels as a KNOWN Frans Hals painting, for all the world to see.

Anna's Song by GloTagŪ Press is soon to be released.  The story will tell her secrets and reveal the  unbelievable connection that she has with the man that painted her portrait, the connection to one of her researchers, and to Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire, King of Spain, 1500 - 1558.

Part of her mystery is that her portrait was considered by many experts to be a later copy of the Seated Woman Holding a Fan (1648-50),  at the Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio.  The story of her vindication and authentication is revealed in the book, Anna's Song.  She and the  Lady  in the Taft's Seated Woman Holding a Fan are the same person.  Part of her mystery, revealed by the researchers, explains why and how this came about. 

For two years, her researchers thought she was Royalty.  Thanks to old documents in Holland, it was proven she is not.  What makes her life more interesting is that her story turned out to be better than the researchers expected.


Dateline 2006, Somewhere in Texas  ̶ Anna is the name that researchers, Tom and Judy Ray of GloTagŪ Press, have given to a lost Frans Hals (1584-1666), Old Master oil painting dated 1633. Frans Hals, for those that are not familiar with 16th century Dutch painters, is recognized to be in the same league with Rembrandt and the rest of the great Master Artists of the time.

"Rembrandt was about twenty years younger than Frans Hals, and the two probably knew each other. Hals lived in Haarlem, Holland.  Rembrandt lived for a while about fifteen miles away in Amsterdam. The painters of the day would often purchase paintings, study them, and then would trade them for goods and services, or sell them at a profit." Tom Ray goes on to say, "I dabble in oil painting, and believe me, a painter recognizes good art work when he sees it."

Vincent van Gogh wrote in 1885, "My thoughts are full of Rembrandt and Hals these days."

Seeing Hals’s audacious pictures made Manet into a painter of the modern city, claimed Marcel Proust. Marcel Proust went on to talk about how Manet in Paris, was extremely impressed with Hals’s work to the point that he, Manet, decided to take on the diverse aspects of Parisian life.

"When I say, I found a rare Lost Old Master oil painting, I mean that the modern day art world is not yet aware that the painting exists. I know where the painting is. It is in a gentleman’s safe-deposit box, in a small town bank in Texas. Through one of my small companies, GloTagŪ Press, my wife and I were asked to direct the research on the painting, and determine its authenticity and value. I have seen the painting only once. I cannot believe that I was able to hold it in my white cotton gloved hands and admire it’s beauty. It was a thrill of a lifetime."

"For the research we needed to do, we were provided all the pictures that we ask for, but to get information from the owner, we had to go through our attorney, through his attorney, to him. It is like spy vs spy."

Back in 1913, when Sotheby’s Auction house in London, England, added antiques and artwork to it’s auction list, a Frans Hals painting was the first old master oil painting that they auctioned. That particular Frans Hals painting was offered for auction by Lord Glenusk, an eminent book collector. That was the auction where Sotheby’s made the change from auctioning just rare books to all different kinds of art.

 Tom Ray mentioned, "Another strange twist to this story is that  at one time I sold rare books for a living.  The first old master oil painting sold by Sothey's was owned by a rare book collector and dealer.  Now  I am working to solve the mystery of a same old master, eighty-six years later, and I was a rare book collector and dealer."

In 1999, at the time a World Auction Record for a Hals painting, a Portrait of Tieleman Roosterman, sold in London for 8,251,500 pounds sterling, or about $15,000,000 U.S.  Tom states, "In today's Old Masters art market, this is just an opening bid."  He estimates the  value of Little Anna on today's Art Market to be somewhere between $15,000,000 to $50,000,000. Tom went on to say with a smile, " In Texas, that ain't chicken feed."

After a tremendous amount of research, the following is a letter that Tom Ray wrote as though Little Anna had written it from the grave. It is her cry for help. Tom says, "she wants to get out of the safe-deposit box she has been in for the last twenty-eight years, and continue her travels.

Before she was imprisoned in the bank box, in that small town in Texas, she was only known to one-man since 1909, a gentleman of prominence in London, England. His name is Sir Edward John Poynter, 1st Baronet (1836-1919). He may, or may not have known who she was, but he knew her portrait was a Frans Hals.

The following letter is from little Anna.  The book was written by Tom Ray of GloTagŪ Press and is titled Anna's Song, The Young Girl, Thought to be a Queen, Cries from the Grave.  It  is her story of rejection, intrigue, murder, politics, war, gold, greed, sex and for a while,  the researchers thought, Royalty.



Haarlem, Holland

In the year of our Lord, 1690

To whom it may concern:

     My name is Anna Beatrix Massa, and I am talking to you from the grave. The year is about 1690. I do not know if Anna is my real name, but from the four names that I had to pick from, that is the one I like, and for now, I will use.

     I have a strange and interesting story to tell you. I will start with the day I became 12 years old, in the year 1633, and I lived in Haarlem, Holland. For my birthday, my father arranged to have my portrait painted by Mr. Frans Hals. I had to go to Mr. Hals’ studio to sit for my portrait. I wore the dress that my mother picked out for me, and the portrait turned out to be very beautiful. I did not care for the time that I had to sit so very still for Mr. Hals, but mother said he was the best portrait painter in the land, and I wanted to look very pretty for my father. He always said I looked like a beautiful Princess.

     Here is where the story gets a little strange. As I grew in years, everyone commented that my portrait was quite beautiful, and it made me beam with pride. When I was about twenty-seven years old, in the year 1648, I had been married for 10 years and I wanted to give my husband a new portrait of me. Mr. Frans Hals still had his studio and had become very popular as a result of the wonderful portraits he painted.

     I went to visit Mr. Hals and told him of my plans for a new portrait. He said that he would be more than happy to accommodate me. Then, I remembered about all that time I had to sit for him, and I asked him if he could use my first portrait as a guide and just make me look my age of 27. I told him that I loved the style of dress that I wore in my first portrait, and asked him if he could use the same pose and just change the face. I told him to show my new gold ring on my right hand and my gold bracelet. My husband gave me the ring and bracelet for our tenth wedding anniversary. I also told him that I did not like the chair in the first painting, and asked him to change that. Mr. Hals agreed, and I left my portrait with him.

     A month or so passed, and I went to Mr. Hals’ studio to pick up my new portrait. It was wonderful. He really made me look beautiful, and my husband was very pleased. That same year, my brother had Mr. Frans Hals paint his portrait. As time went by, and I got older, my first portrait must have taken a back seat to my second portrait. I was so excited with my second portrait, I may have forgotten to keep track of my first portrait from Mr. Hals. As a result, somehow, some way, my first portrait, one of Mr. Hals’ earlier works, became lost.

     In my later years, my favorite Aunt and Uncle were fortunate to have done some volunteer work for the Old Men’s Alms House, and as a result, my aunt’s portrait was painted along with some of her friends. The painting was entitled, "The Lady Governors of the Old Men’s Alms House." Some people call the painting "Regentsesses of the Old Men’s Alms House." It has been so long ago that the only thing I can remember is that silly ribbon tie that my Aunt wore in the painting. She let me wear it in the first sitting for Mr. Hals. She also wore the same style cap on her hair, and as you can see, she always liked to carry a fan when she dressed up. She taught me the same ways. My friends never understood.

     She allowed me to use some of the paper she had left over from the Alms house, that had the National crest of Holland on it, to write this letter.

     As time went by, and after I had gone to meet my Maker, my strange travels really began. My descendants must have guarded our family portraits, until someone in the family needed money and sold them. That seems to happen with the younger generation. How quickly they forget.

     Because family records sometimes get misplaced, the following story will have to stand until additional documents surface.

     As I understand it, Mr. Hals paintings were, and are still in great demand.

     My father was in line for some special appointments, but he never would talk about it, or what happened in his past. I often wondered why he called me his little princess. He would sometimes refer to my brother as Prince Isaac II. Mother would smile and my brother would get embarrassed.

     I have been in this safe deposit box so long that some of the information escapes me. I am pretty sure that I, along with the pendent paintings of my brother and myself, and a large Frans Hals painting of our Family group spent time at the Buckingham House in London.

     In 1633 the original Buckingham house was built by a fine gentleman by the name first Lord Goring. The house was located in St. James’s Park. Later in 1703, the first Duke of Buckingham and Normandy purchased the original structure from Lord Goring, and made the home into what one would call today, a real Palace.

     I do not recall how, or when we all arrived at the Buckingham House, but in 1762 England’s King George III purchased the house. He purchased it from one of the descendents of the first Duke of Buckingham and Normandy. His name was Sir Charles Sheffield, son of Sir John Sheffield.

King George turned the Buckingham House into a real Palace. It was intended to be a private retreat especially for his new bride Queen Charlotte. In fact they all referred to the retreat as "The Queen’s House."

     My Dad and Mon would have been proud of us because of the people that we associated with during those years. Having been in the same home with the King and Queen of England, I can tell you, I really did feel like a Princess. I know my dad is looking down from the heavens with a big smile on his face.

     A year after he purchased the Buckingham House, in 1763, King George III decided to build a nice library in the Palace. Guess what happened to our portraits then. The King had so many fine paintings and art, he needed to make room for some of the fine books that had been acquired for the library. As a result, he sold some of the paintings.

     Along with a lot of other beautiful paintings, Our family portraits were sold, and we had to move to another home.

     They say today that our old home became a very important place. In 1837 Queen Victoria made the Buckingham Palace the official royal palace of the British monarch. I understand that now England’s Queen Elizabeth spends quite a bit of her time there. I would have loved to have met Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

     During the year of 1763, a noble family from Ireland purchased several of Mr. Frans Hals paintings at the King’s sale. This time we moved into a castle, the Castle Malahide, near Dublin, Ireland.

     I do not know why, but one of the Talbots of Malahide went to the Buckingham House Sale in London, and purchased my first two portraits along with my brother’s portrait and the Hals painting called "A Family Group". I have a strange sensation that everywhere we went, we had some relatives. I just have not been able to place them.

     Today, in the 21st century, the art world is not yet aware that the "Family Group", by Mr. Frans Hals, is most likely a portrait of my entire family. Like I said, a lot of time has passed and some of the exact facts escape me.

     It was a real honor to grace the walls of that beautiful castle along with many other fine paintings and pieces of art the Talbots had collected over the years.

     Time went by, and Emily, the first wife of Richard Wogan Talbot, fifth Lord Talbot of Malahide, and, also, the great granddaughter of James Boswell, passed away, and in 1901, Lord Talbot married the widow Isabel Blake Gurney, from a well-to-do banking family. She had seven children. Richard had one son named James, named after his grand father.

     In 1904, Lord Richard received the contents from Emily’s large Boswell estate, and there was extra furniture and art work everywhere. Late in the year 1907, Lady Isabel Talbot started rearranging things and decided to sell some of their beautiful art collection. Not realizing that we may have been relatives, there we were, ready to move again. If the truth were known, I think the Lord Talbot that bought our portraits at the Buckingham House sale in 1763 knew who we were. The reason I think that, he kept us all together. That particular lord Talbot would have been a grandfather or a great grandfather to Fifth Lord Richard Wogan Talbot. Time does fly when you are just hanging around the halls and great rooms in a castle or a palace.

     I really enjoyed the Castle Malahide, and all the interesting people that came to visit, but apparently, it was our time to move on. I figured I stayed in the Castle Malahide from about 1763 to 1908.

     Lord Richard needed an accounting for Isabel’s sale. At the time, the only man in the land that could be relied upon to know his Old Masters was a famous Victorian artist by the name of Sir Edward John Poynter (1836-1919), from London, England. Sir Poynter was President of the Royal Academy of Arts, from 1896 to 1918. He was also the Director of the National Gallery of Art, in London, from 1894 to 1904, and he could be relied on to give a fair and equitable appraisal.

     Because of Sir Poynter’s vast experience, he was very good at determining if a painting was authentic. Sir Poynter was a very prominent figure in the art world at the time, and was very familiar with Frans Hals’ work.

     It may have been common in those days to label the back of a painting, to assure the next owner of the name of the artist, and the painting’s authenticity. Thank goodness, Sir Poynter had the presence of mind to write Mr. Hals’ name on the back of my first portrait, and sign his own name. There was no way that he could have known my name. I do wish he had called me "Anna." To this day, along with a lot of other valuable information about our lives and times, back in Holland, and in England, my true name is lost forever. I will say that I recently found out that Mr. Hals first wife’s name was Anna. Maybe that is why he was so nice to me when I sat for my two portraits.

     In the effort to work with Lord Richard Wogan Talbot to properly catalog his collection, Lord Richard must have given Sir Poynter my small first portrait, as a gesture of thanks, for his help. Maybe he did this because my portrait did not have a companion portrait like my second portrait. Sir Poynter could have paid for the portrait, but I am sure it was a gift from Lord Richard for his services. The year was 1908.

     At the sale, the National Gallery purchased Frans Hals’, "A Family Group," our family portrait, for L25,000. As a result of the sale, my first portrait, for the first time in 275 years, was separated from my second portrait and my father and mothers family group portrait. Time and life’s events can sometimes break up a family. Now, I was on my own. Remember, I was only about 12 at the time I first sat for Mr. Hals.

     My second portrait and the companion portrait of my brother went to art dealer Sully in London, in 1908; then to Scott and Fowles, art dealers in New York, in 1909; and in that same year, they went to The Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati, Ohio. Because the Taft needed to remodel its Museum, the pendant portraits were sent to the Seattle Museum, for a brief stay. They were not told, and as a result, the people at the Taft Museum still think that my pendent portrait along with my brother are portraits of a Husband and wife. They couldn’t have known. Had they really studied the pendent portraits back in 1909 along side the "Family Group", they could have seen my brother at about the age of 12 or 13.

     I was so pleased that I got to stay back in London with such a distinguished individual, Sir Edward John Poynter. He was a fine and wonderful man. Also, he was a great artist. It is interesting that he called Mr. Frans Hals, "Francis" Hals. It must have been his English influence.

     Strange as it may seem, my first portrait drifted into the masses of the unknown paintings of the world. I think that the reason I became lost is that Sir Edward Poynter had encased my portrait in a glass-front frame. As a result, Mr. Hals’ mark could not be readily seen on the front of the painting, and the label that Sir Poynter signed and put on the back was not visible either.

     As a member of the unknown, my travels seem to fade from light to dark like a mysterious figure in the night. I cannot tell you how long Sir Poynter kept me, or if I was passed down to his heirs, but in I978, an architect’s wife and part-time art dealer, Mrs. Gifford, from San Antonio, Texas, purchased my portrait in Europe. She brought me back to America, and sold me to a young art dealer from Central Texas, who purchased my portrait especially for one of his clients. After a short stay, about six months, the client indicated that the painting did not go well with his collection, so he sold it back to the young dealer from whence it came. The  year was still 1979.

     Finally, 346 years after my first portrait, in the year 1979, the art dealer in Central Texas had the idea to take my portrait out of the old glass-front picture frame. The glass had been cracked, and when he took out my portrait, there I was, clean as a hound’s tooth, and free to let the world see how beautiful I was at 12. Well, Mother always said I was beautiful and dad called me his little Princess. My portrait showed that I still had a little baby fat, but that is normal at 12. I think that my portrait is as pretty as that Mona Lisa painting, plus my story is just as interesting, if not more so. At least, there are three paintings of me, and only one of her.

     I have stayed with some pretty special people in my time. I understand that Lady Isabel Talbot of Malahide was created a Dame of the Order of the British Empire. I loved that lady. She was one in a million. Lord Richard‘s grandfather, who may have brought me to Malahide Castle, son James, was Lord-in-waiting to Her Majesty Queen Victoria. Richard’s uncle, The Right Rev. Monsignor George Talbot, was Canon of St. Peters and Chamberlain to Pope Pius IV. I have been in the presence of some of the most interesting people. I am very proud of my travels so far.

     My plea to you, is to tell my story to the world. Show that another fine painting of Mr. Frans Hals is no longer lost. The safe deposit box that I am in now, and have been in for 28 years, is getting a little tight. Some say it is like being locked in the Tower of London. When I get out, this will free my soul, and finally give me peace, and I can be put on exhibit, or continue my wild and interesting travels. Now, my fate is in your hands. The art world awaits your decision.

     With kind regards,

     Anna.….It’s really dark in here! Somebody help, please do something. Get me out of here………..!

P.S. I want to thank the research team of Tom and Judy Ray from GloTag Press for answering the many questions that I had while I was composing this letter to you. We are all fortunate that in addition to his research duties for me, Mr. Ray wrote a wonderful book that the people of the world can use to help stay strong, healthy and happy.  Like I said, I have been around some very interesting people.  Please allow my travels to continue.........

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