Frans Hals’ spontaneity, hundreds of years later

Frans Hals, “The Smoker,” 1625, oil on wood, octagonal, 18 3/8 x 19 1/2.” Metropolitan Museum of Art, Marquand Collection, Gift of Henry G. Marquand, 1889

 Who doesn’t love Dutch painting? Remember that time you were in Amsterdam and stopped by the coffee shop, then spent the afternoon in the Rijksmuseum marveling at those amazing still life paintings? This summer, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has dusted off the Dutch painting collection and put together another special exhibition, this one emphasizing work by Frans Hals, a portrait and genre painter known for his loose brushwork and boozy subjects. Thirteen Hals paintings (two lent from private collections) will be on display with works by other Netherlandish artists, including Anthony Van Dyck, Jan Steen, and Peter Paul Rubens. Contextualizing Hals’ work will undoubtedly show how distinctive his animated poses and brushy paint handling were at the time.
 Frans Hals, “Young Man and Woman in an Inn (‘Yonker Ramp and His Sweetheart’)” 1623, oil on canvas, 41 1/2 x 31 1/4.”
In a 1989 NYTimes review of a Hals show at the National Gallery of Art, Michael Kimmelman wrote that Hals had fallen out of fashion by  his death in 1666, and both the artist and his works dropped into near obscurity. “By the early 19th century, Hals was not even mentioned in texts on 17th-century Dutch portraiture, and paintings attributed to him sold for paltry prices. But it was precisely what earlier generations had disliked about Hals that enraptured artists like Courbet. The freewheeling, expressive way he handled paint, the impression of naturalism and spontaneity he achieved, the sheer virtuosity of his technique were qualities they wished to emulate, and they eagerly copied his works. They admired, as well, the fact that he seemed to havemore in common with Rubens than with Van Dyke. Hals became such a hero to the avant-garde and its supporters that by 1883 the influential Belgian art journal Art Moderne lauded him as not only a precursor of Modernism but also as one of the greatest painters of all time.”
Frans Hals in the Metropolitan Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art,” New York, NY. Through October 10, 2011.
Check out the website for the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem


  1. I always said that all the late 19th century's painters and 20th century ones did with brush… Frans Halls had already done.
    I stil don't think I am overreacting… I really believe that the last 2 centuries didn't offer anything this Holandese generation hadn't alread done… and in a much better way.
    I really don't need any NY Times asshole telling what to think about his work or his History. I do have eyes.

  2. Ah, look here. Another part of you all together. We women are so complex are we not ? No wonder we drive our partners boondongle crazy. The very amateur artist of me is So happy I found this other blog of yours

  3. I always feel like meeting an old friend I know so well when I see works by this great master. So, not that I�ve learnt something new but still feel nice to see your post. Thanks.

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