Frans Hals

Orfeas Katsoulis | Nov 15, 2023

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Frans Hals (Antwerp ?, between 1580 and 1583 - Haarlem, August 26, 1666) was a Dutch Baroque painter (United Provinces), considered, with Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer, as one of the most important of the Golden Age.

Although undoubtedly of Flemish origin, it was in the Dutch city of Haarlem that he spent the rest of his life and career from 1591 at the latest.

"He was a magnificently gifted family boy who painted for a living, cavalierly, as a gentleman, in a hurry to get things done quickly and to get things over with: the rest of the time as a bon vivant, a companion of the Liefde boven al (Love above all) lodge, with turbulence of conduct and moods that explain those of his brush and sometimes lead to dealings with the police." These lines written in 1921 by Louis Gillet describe well the image that one could have had of Frans Hals at that time. They also express the sympathy, a little condescending, towards a man whose presumed antics make one smile as much as the gaiety so often expressed on the faces of his models.

A major artist, considered one of the great masters of portraiture, he also painted, especially at the beginning of his career, several genre scenes.

His paintings are distinguished by their expressiveness. His detached brushstrokes are characteristic of his style, and he helped to introduce this liveliness of style into Dutch art. Hals also contributed to the development of group portraiture in the 17th century with his portraits of the civil guard and regents.

His style was to have a considerable influence, more than two centuries after him, on the representatives of the realist movement - such as Gustave Courbet - and the impressionist movement - such as Van Gogh.

Childhood and early years

Frans Franchoisz. Hals was born between 1580 and 1583, probably in Antwerp. He was the son of a catholic cloth merchant, Franchois Fransz. Hals van Mechelen (i.e. "of Mechelen" - c. 1542 - 1610) and his second wife, Adriaentje van Geertenryck (Antwerp, c. 1552 - Haarlem, after Nov. 1616). Like many, his family fled after the fall of Antwerp and the triumph of the Spanish army. They found refuge in Haarlem, where the future painter spent the rest of his life. The first archival document attesting to the family's presence in Haarlem is in fact dated March 19, 1591: it is the birth certificate, in a Protestant church, of Dirck Hals, Frans' younger brother.

It was around the beginning of the 1600s that Frans Hals completed his apprenticeship with another Flemish emigrant, Carel van Mander (1548-1606), a Mannerist painter whose influence on the works of his pupil would hardly be visible, however, as Hals's early paintings show more kinship with those of the Caravaggesque painters of Utrecht or of the Flemish Jacob Jordaens.

In 1610 Hals became a member of the local St. Luke's guild. Around this time he married his first wife, Anneke Harmensdr., who gave him a first son in 1611, named Harmen.

For a long time the earliest dated work by the artist was considered to be a Portrait of Jacobus Zaffius, painted in 1611. The attribution of this painting to Hals, however, is now questioned, as its style differs greatly from that so characteristic of the master (cf. chap. "Authenticity"). The only certain evidence of his work during the first decade of his career as an independent painter dates from 1614 and is an engraving by Jan van de Velde based on a lost portrait of the pastor Johannes Bogardus (or Bogaert).

The painter

Hals achieved his first major success in 1616 with a life-size group portrait, Banquet of the Officers of the St. George's Archers. Although this dated work is one of the earliest known paintings by the artist, it nevertheless shows a striking mastery, from which it can be deduced that a number of less accomplished works must have preceded it. In 1612, Frans Hals himself had become a member of the St. George's militia. His name, followed by his title ("Frans Hals schilder" - i.e. "Frans Hals painter") appears in the Register van de loffelijcke Schutterij der stadt Haerlem (in this militia he belonged to the company of Captain Jacob Laurensz, and his weapon, according to the letter in front of his name in the register, was the musket. A total of three group portraits of this militia have been preserved by Frans Hals (1616, 1627, and 1636 to 1639). It has been speculated that the painter portrayed himself in the portrait of the officers and non-commissioned officers completed in 1639, but this has never been proven. Usually, the ordinary members did not appear in the group portrait, this privilege being reserved only for the officers. It is possible, however, that he received a favor for painting the company three times.

In 1616, the same year in which he painted the first group portrait of the St. George's militia, Hals was prosecuted for not paying for paintings. This is documented in a court document, which also mentions that the painter was in Antwerp between August and November, which is the only known record of Hals' stay outside the borders of the United Provinces.

Historians have reported that the painter beat Anneke, his first wife, based on an archival document dated February 20, 1616, in which it is stated that a man named Frans Hals was brought before the magistrates for mistreating his wife. This is a mistake, however, because, as Seymour Slive has pointed out, the Frans Hals in question is not the artist, but another Haarlem resident of the same name. In fact, at the time of the crime, Frans Hals could not have abused Anneke, since she had given birth to a second son, whose name is unknown, and had died in childbirth several months earlier, in June 1615. Similarly, Hals has been attributed with a penchant for drinking, largely on the basis of anecdotes amplified by Arnold Houbraken, although there are no reliable documents to prove this.

On February 12, 1617, Frans Hals married Lysbeth Reyniers, the younger daughter of a fishmonger, whom he had hired to look after his two children. The marriage took place in Spaarndam, a small village outside the boundaries of Haarlem, because the young woman was already eight months pregnant. The child was born a few days later, a little girl named Sara. Frans Hals was a devoted father and the couple had at least eight children. After Sara, Frans "junior" was born in 1618, and Jan in 1622.

In the meantime, in 1618-1619, the painter, together with his brother Dirck, was a member of the Haarlem rhetorical society De Wijngaertranken ("The Undertakings of the Vine"), which a few years later also included one of those who are said to have apprenticed with Frans Hals: Adriaen Brouwer. The motto of this literary society was "Lieft boven al" ("Love above all").

Around 1627, he painted a second Banquet of the officers of the corps of archers of Saint-Georges, as well as a group portrait of another civil militia: the Banquet of the officers of the corps of archers of Saint-Adrien.

In 1629 he worked as an art restorer on a large collection of paintings, which Van Mander described in his book Het Schilder-Boeck ("The Book of Painters"), published in 1604. These paintings, which belonged to the headquarters of the Brotherhood of St. John in Haarlem, include works by Geertgen tot Sint Jans, Jan van Scorel and Jan Mostaert. It is believed that Frans Hals was commissioned to restore the altarpiece by Geertgen tot Sint Jans from the Janskerk, some of whose panels, including the Deploration of Christ, are now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. This work was paid for by the city of Haarlem, since all religious art had been confiscated during the iconoclasm; officially, however, the Council did not possess the entire collection until 1625, when the city council decided which paintings were suitable for decorating the city halls. The works that had been discarded as "too Catholic" were sold to Cornelis Claesz. van Wieringen, a member of the St. Luke's guild, who was responsible for ensuring that they were no longer found in Haarlem.

In spite of regular commissions, Hals had to contend with material difficulties for most of his life. In 1630 he was sued for inability to pay his debts to a cobbler, and the following year a butcher brought him to court for the same reasons.

While some of his contemporaries, such as Rembrandt, moved at the whim of their patrons, Hals was reluctant to work anywhere but in his own city. According to the Haarlem archives, despite a very high salary, he left the portrait of a group of soldiers begun in Amsterdam in 1633 - Captain Reael's company - unfinished, because he refused to continue painting there, demanding that the soldiers come to his house to pose. In 1635, another setback: he was unable to pay the annual dues to the Guild of Saint Luke. At that time he ran a studio in the Grote Heiligland, near the old people's home, where he painted the regents at the end of his career in 1664 (the home, the Oudemannenhuis, was to become the Frans Hals Museum many years later).

In 1641 he was commissioned to paint a group portrait of the regents of St. Elisabeth's Hospital, but the following years saw his financial difficulties increase. Hals was then considered a somewhat old-fashioned painter. In 1644, the same year he was promoted to a higher position in the painters' guild, he was fined for insolvency. Ten years later, in order to pay off debts to a baker named Jan Ykessz, he was forced to sell part of his property. The inventory that was drawn up at that time mentioned only three mattresses and bolsters, a cupboard, a table and five paintings (by him, his sons, Van Mander and Maarten van Heemskerck). In 1661, the painters' guild exempted him from paying the annual membership fee. Left without resources, the municipality finally granted him, in 1664, in addition to three peat tanks, an annuity of two hundred florins, on top of a pension of one hundred and fifty florins granted two years earlier.

Besides painting, he continued throughout his life to work as a restorer of works of art, as a dealer in paintings, and as an expert in the field of art taxes for the city council.

Frans Hals died in 1666 in Haarlem. He is buried in the choir of the Sint-Bavokerk church. His widow died later in a hospital, forgotten by all, after having resorted to public charity.

The critical fortune of Frans Hals

Success and praise accompanied Frans Hals' career, at least until a certain period. The civic conflicts, which were very acute in the Netherlands at the time, may have contributed to this situation. The unsuspecting Scheits states bluntly that the financial difficulties that weighed on the artist's maturity and old age were caused by the decline in the quality of his production, which obviously could no longer keep up with the new fashions imposed by portraitists and their clients, although this did not prevent Hals from receiving portrait commissions right up to the end of his long career. But it is undeniable that in the 17th century several important Dutch art historians neglected him: Samuel van Hoogstraten does not mention him in the Inleyding tot de Hooge Scoole der Schilderkonst (Rotterdam 1678), nor does Gérard de Lairesse in Het Groot Schilderboeck (Amsterdam 1707), nor does J. von Sandrart, however nonconformist and so well informed on Nordic art, does not consider it appropriate to devote a biography to him in 1675, when he gathers the lives of the principal masters of his time.


With a few rare exceptions, the figure appears, standing or seated, against a plain, relatively dark background, possibly with his shadow on it. Sometimes he is holding an accessory, such as a skull, a book, a cane, a sword, a branch, a fan, a flower - often symbolizing or emphasizing a character trait of the subject -, or a piece of clothing, such as a pair of gloves or a hat.

Most of the time, he is framed at mid-body, more rarely at three-quarters, and exceptionally full-length (only one example is known: the portrait of Willem Van Heythuysen).

Sometimes the portrait shows the character's coat of arms - in some cases added a posteriori by a hand other than that of the painter - and

Hals painted individual portraits of personalities from mostly the wealthy classes and belonging to different categories:

It was around 1649 that Hals is said to have painted a Portrait of René Descartes, the original of which seems to have been lost but of which the Louvre keeps a copy. Another portrait of Descartes attributed to Hals is kept in the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen.

Some of these works are actually portraits of a couple, with the man and woman depicted on two separate canvases or panels. Sometimes the identity of the person depicted could not be determined, as in the case of the Laughing Cavalier. Portraits of children, often joyful, are probably those of the painter's own children.

Hals painted several group portraits. These were commissioned portraits of individuals from the middle and upper classes of society at the time.

The military, at least the officers and NCOs who commanded their group portrait, were usually from the "higher" circles.

The Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem has five portraits of civil militias by the master:

On these paintings alone are a total of 68 portraits of 61 different individuals, not including one dog.

The painting The Company of Captain Reinier Reael and Lieutenant Cornelis Michielsz. Blaeuw, known as The Lean Company, which is in the Rijksmuseum, was left largely unfinished by Hals. Pieter Codde was commissioned to complete it in 1637. It is relatively difficult to distinguish between the contributions of the two painters in this work.

The Frans Hals Museum also holds three portraits of regents:

There are also a few family portraits: the Family Portrait in a Landscape (Bridgnorth, Shropshire) painted around 1620, the 1635 family portrait in the Cincinnati Art Museum (Ohio), two other Family Portrait in a Landscape, both dated 1648 and kept in the National Gallery in London and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid - the latter is in fact the only painting by Frans Hals in a Spanish museum.

Frans Hals also painted a wedding portrait in which, contrary to the usual practice, the couple is depicted on the same support: the Wedding Portrait of Isaac Massa and Beatrix van der Laen in the Rijksmuseum, painted in 1622.

Genre scenes

Apart from portraits, Hals also painted a few genre scenes, depicting revelers, musicians, fishermen's children on a beach, a vegetable seller, the "village madwoman" of Haarlem (the "Malle Babbe"), and other such subjects, which seem to be intended above all to convey "impressions of everyday life.

In their themes, Hals' genre paintings are closer to the works of the Utrecht Caravaggio painters than to the bourgeois scenes invented by Willem Pietersz. Buytewech (and Buytewech's influence was to be immense on other painters, such as Pieter de Hooch and Johannes Vermeer.

Hals' genre paintings are also distinguished by their format, which is generally larger than that usually adopted for this type of work.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has some very fine examples: the Mardi Gras Revelers, circa 1615, The Young Ramp and his Beauty (1623), and The Boy with a Lute (circa 1635). A version of The Rommelpot Player is in the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and another, probably later, in the Art Institute of Chicago.

Some of Hals' paintings can be considered both portraits and genre paintings. This is the case, for example, with The Bohemian Woman (ca. 1628-1630) in the Louvre and The Merry Drinker (ca. 1628-1630) in the Rijksmuseum. They are sometimes referred to as "character portraits".

Other genres?

It is questionable whether Hals ever painted landscapes, still lifes, or so-called "historical" scenes. Many Dutch artists of the seventeenth century chose to specialize in a particular type of work, and it would seem that Hals was primarily a portraitist and genre painter. The Museum of Western and Oriental Art in Odessa, Ukraine, does, however, hold paintings attributed to Frans Hals, dated 1625, depicting evangelists. The catalog raisonné drawn up in the early 20th century by the art historian Cornelis Hofstede de Groot also lists four paintings with a biblical theme (perhaps inauthentic): two "Prodigal Son", a "Denial of Saint Peter" and a representation of Saint Mary Magdalene.

A constancy: above all a portraitist

Hals is therefore best known for his portraits, mostly of wealthy citizens, such as Pieter van den Broecke and Isaac Massa, whom he painted three times, and also produced large-scale group portraits, many of which depict civil guards. A Baroque painter, he practiced an intimate realism with a radically free approach. His paintings depict various strata of society: banquets or meetings of officers, marksmen, members of guilds, admirals, generals, burgomasters, merchants, lawyers and clerks, travelling musicians and singers, representatives of high society, fishwives and tavern heroes.

In his group portraits, such as those of the St. Adrian's Archers, Hals captures each character in a different way. The faces are not idealized and are clearly recognizable; personalities are revealed through a variety of poses and facial expressions.

According to available sources, he apprenticed with the painter and art historian Carel van Mander (Hals owned several paintings by Van Mander that were part of a lot of property sold in 1652 to pay off bakery debts). He soon perfected his art to the point of surpassing that practiced by his predecessors, such as Jan van Scorel and Antonio Moro, and gradually broke free from the traditional conventions of portraiture.

While Rembrandt uses golden glitter effects based on artificial contrasts, Hals prefers daylight and silver reflections. They are both painters of touch, but the notes they produce are of a different color: Rembrandt is the bass and Hals the soprano. With a rare intuition, Hals manages to capture a moment in the life of his subjects. He transcribes with great care what nature shows at that moment with a delicate gradation of colors, and by making himself master of every form of expression. He has acquired such skill that a few sharp, fluid brushstrokes are enough to produce accuracy in tone, light and shadow.

Towards a freer style

Hals's early paintings, such as the Banquet of the Officers of the St. George's Archers' Corps of 1616 and Two Boys Playing and Singing, painted around 1625, show him as a careful draftsman capable of great finish, and yet full of spirit. The flesh paintings he did at the time were pasty and smoothed out, and less clear than they would become later. Later on, he became more efficient, his hand had more freedom, and his effects showed greater mastery.

During this period he painted the portrait of Paulus van Beresteyn (Louvre Museum), and the full-length portrait of Willem van Heythuysen leaning on a sword (Alte Pinakothek, Munich). These two paintings are matched by the other Banquet des officiers des arquebusiers de Saint-Georges of 1627 (with various portraits), Banquet des officiers du corps des archers de Saint-Adrien of 1627, and Réunion des officiers et sous-officiers du corps des archers de Saint-Adrien of 1633. A similar painting, dated 1637, suggests the study of Rembrandt's masterpieces, and the same influence is evident in the Group Portrait of the Regents of St. Elisabeth's Hospital in Haarlem of 1641 and the Portrait of Maria Voogt (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam).

In particular, between 1620 and 1640, he executed a large number of portraits of married couples on separate panels, with the husband on the left panel and the wife on the right. This was a common practice at the time. Only once did Hals combine a couple on the same canvas: in the Wedding Portrait of Isaac Massa and Beatrix van der Laen, painted in 1622 (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam).

Towards a more limited and darker palette

His style evolved throughout his life. Brightly colored paintings gradually gave way to works with a single dominant color. After 1641, he showed a tendency to restrict the range of his palette, and to suggest color rather than express it. Later in his life, he shifted to darker hues, and black was even more present. His brushstrokes became more relaxed, with the overall impression taking precedence over the more subtle details. While his earlier paintings were cheerful and lively, his later portraits emphasize the stature and dignity of the people depicted. This austerity is evident in the Group Portrait of the Regents of the Old People's Hospice and the Group Portrait of the Regents of the Old People's Hospice (1664), masterpieces from a color point of view, although in reality these works are both essentially monochrome. Most notable is his restrained palette in skin tones, which over the years becomes increasingly gray, until finally the shadows are painted almost pure black, as in the portrait of Tymane Oosdorp.

Since this trend coincides with the period of his life when he found himself in poverty, some historians have speculated that one of the reasons for this predilection for black and white pigments was their lower cost compared to carmine pigments.

If, as a portraitist, Hals did not possess quite the psychological insight of a Rembrandt or a Velázquez, some of his works, however, such as his portraits of Admiral De Ruyter, Jacob Olycan, and Albert van der Meer, bear witness to an attempt at character analysis that is not found much in the snapshot of expression of his so-called "character portraits. In the latter, he usually captures on canvas the fleeting appearance of the various stages of gaiety, from the subtle, half-ironic smile that quivered around the lips of the curiously misnamed Laughing Cavalier (Wallace Collection) to the silly grin of the Babbe Trunk (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Gemäldegalerie). This group of paintings includes The Jester with a Lute (from the collection of Baron Gustave de Rothschild, now in the Louvre; a relatively loose copy of this work is in the Rijksmuseum), The Bohemian Woman (Louvre) and The Young Fisherman, while the Portrait of the Artist with his Second Wife and the Portrait of Paulus van Beresteyn in the Louvre follow a similar trend. In connection with the latter painting, the Louvre also possesses a portrait of van Beresteyn's wife, Catharina Both van der Eem, but it is of a singularly different workmanship, so that it is now considered to be by a collaborator of Hals rather than by Hals himself. A similarly successful composition can be found in the 1648 Family Portrait in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which is in many respects one of the artist's most masterful achievements. This work was almost unknown when it was shown in the 1906 Winter Exhibition at the Royal Academy. Four years later, the painting was acquired by the German-born banker and collector Otto Hermann Kahn (1867-1934) for $500,000 and presented to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was suggested for a time that the painter had depicted himself in this painting, surrounded by his family.

Many of Hals' paintings have disappeared, and the exact number is unknown. According to the most authoritative catalog on the subject, compiled by Seymour Slive from 1970 to 1974 (which predates Slive's last exhibition catalog of 1989), a further 222 paintings could be attributed to Frans Hals. Another specialist on the artist, Claus Grimm, estimates a lower number (one hundred and forty-five).

"I especially admired the hands of Hals, hands that were alive, but not "finished" in the sense that we want to give now by force to the word "finish". And the heads too, the eyes, the nose, the mouth, made from the first brush strokes, without any retouching. To paint in one go, as much as possible, in one go! What a pleasure to see a Frans Hals like this!"

- Vincent van Gogh

It is often thought that Hals painted his works "in one go" ("aus einem Guss") on the canvas. Technical and scientific research has revealed that this is a false impression. While it is true that much of the preparatory work was done without a sketch or underpainting ("alla prima"), most of the works were done in layers, as was common practice at the time. Sometimes a drawing was made with chalk or paint on a gray or pink ground layer and then gradually filled in more or less.

It would seem that Hals had a habit of applying the underpainting very loosely, which shows his virtuosity from the beginning of the work. This is of course particularly true of his later, mature works. Hals showed enormous boldness, courage and virtuosity, and had a great ability to take his hands off the canvas or panel at the most opportune moment. He did not paint his subjects "to death" as did most of his contemporaries, who were very concerned with accuracy and diligence, whether or not their clients asked for it.

"An unusual way of painting that is his own, and surpasses almost everyone else." ("Een onghemeyne manier van schilderen, die hem eyghen is, by nae alle overtreft.") This is how his first biographer, Schrevelius, described Hals' painting methods in the 17th century. In reality, the idea of painting in a simplified manner had not originated with him - in sixteenth-century Italy other artists had already taken the same approach - and Frans Hals' technique was probably inspired by that of his Flemish contemporaries Rubens and Van Dyck.

As early as the 17th century, the public was struck by the dynamism of his portraits. For example, the same Schrevelius wrote that Hals' work exuded "so much strength and life" that the painter "seemed to defy nature with his brush. A few centuries later, Vincent van Gogh, in a letter to his brother Theo, raved about the vivacity of Hals' style. Hals had chosen not to give his painting a smooth finish, as most of his contemporaries did, but imitated the vitality of his subject by applying color in patches, lines, dots, and broad strokes, and paid almost no attention to detail.

It was not until the 19th century that his technique found imitators, in particular the Impressionists. The most accomplished examples of his technique can be found in paintings such as the group portrait of the regents of the old people's home and the portraits of the Civil Guard.

Frans Hals influenced his brother Dirck Hals, who was also a painter. Five of his sons also followed in his footsteps and became painters in their turn: Harmen Hals (1611-1669), Frans Hals the Younger (1618-1669), Jan Hals (1620-apr.1654), Reynier Hals (1627-1672) and Nicolaes Hals (1628-1686).

Dirck Hals painted festive and dance scenes in a rather different style, but with a freedom very similar to that of his elder brother. His freedom, however, is too exuberant and he is far from possessing the same skill in drawing as his brother Frans.

Among the many members of the master's family, Frans Hals the Younger deserves special attention. He painted village houses and poultry. A painting of a table covered with gold and silver dishes, cups, glasses and books is considered one of his best works.

Other contemporary painters were influenced by Frans Hals:

It is frequently suggested that many painters were students of Hals. But a study has in the meantime shown that there are some questions about this idea. In his Grand Théâtre des artistes et peintres néerlandais (De Groote Schouburgh der Nederlantsche konstschilders en schilderessen, 1718-1721), Arnold Houbraken lists Adriaen Brouwer, Adriaen van Ostade and Dirck van Delen as pupils of Hals. Vincent Laurensz. van der Vinne, according to his son, and Pieter Gerritsz. van Roestraten, according to a notarized document (he married one of Hals' daughters, Adriaentje), also learned painting from Frans Hals. Johannes Verspronck, one of the ten or so portraitists active in Haarlem at the time, also studied for a time with the master.

Stylistically, the works most closely resembling those of Hals are the few attributed to Judith Leyster, most of which she signed. This makes her and her husband, Jan Miense Molenaer, potential students of Hals.

Two centuries after his death, Hals received a number of post-mortem students. Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Charles-François Daubigny, Max Liebermann, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Gustave Courbet, Giovanni Boldini, and, in the Netherlands, Jacobus van Looy and Isaac Israëls, are some of the impressionist and realist painters who explored Hals' work extensively, making copies after him and developing his technique and manner. Many of them went to Haarlem to see the collection of paintings that would later become the Frans Hals Museum. At that time, the works were on display in the town hall, but they already had the opportunity to study many of the master's most important paintings.

Hals' reputation began to fade after his death-indeed, a few years before it occurred-and for two centuries he was so disparaged that some of his paintings, the same ones that some of the world's greatest museums now boast, were sold at auctions for derisory amounts.

From the middle of the nineteenth century onwards, his reputation was once again brought to light by influential art critics and specialists such as the Frenchman Théophile Thoré-Bürger, who wrote a series of articles on him in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, as well as on other Dutch painters of the Golden Age, Wilhelm von Bode, who wrote his dissertation on him in 1871, and Cornelis Hofstede, Wilhelm von Bode, who wrote his dissertation on him in 1871, and Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, who included him among the forty painters whose works are listed in an imposing catalog raisonné (1910), all contributed to a reconsideration of his importance. It can even be said that this rediscovery had a considerable influence on the development of painting itself.

Hals' works have since found their way into countless cities around the world and into museum collections. Since the late nineteenth century, they have been collected everywhere - from Antwerp to Toronto, and from London to New York. Many of his paintings were sold to American collectors, who appreciated the artist's disinterestedness in material wealth and social prestige.

Some of his most important works are on display in the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem.

It is striking that there are a large number of paintings simply "attributed" to Frans Hals, or whose authenticity is disputed.

One of the most high-profile cases involving a Frans Hals forgery was that of the Lachende Cavalier, which went to trial in 1924 and 1925, and was to represent an unfortunate episode in the career of the eminent art historian and expert Cornelis Hofstede de Groot.

A painting by Hals, The Merry Company, acquired by the Louvre in 1893, was in fact a work by Judith Leyster.

Unlike Rembrandt or Johannes Vermeer, there seems to be no internationally recognized collaborative body whose function is to verify whether a work attributed to Hals is authentic or whether it should be considered, instead, the work of one of his pupils. The forgeries of Van Meegeren - who in the 1930s produced a rather convincing Babbe Trunk in the Rijksmuseum - have added to this uncertainty. On the subject of the authenticity of works attributed to Frans Hals, reference can be made to the book by Frans L.M. Dony.

In 2006 it was established that the Portrait of the Haarlem Prelate Jacobus Hendrick Zaffius was in fact a copy made after a painting by Hals. This painting was previously considered to be the first known work by the artist. The copy dates from the 17th century. As for the original, it seems to have been lost. The study that led to this conclusion was conducted by Pieter Thiel, former director of the Rijksmuseum's painting collections. Similarly, a Portrait of a Middle-Aged Woman, bequeathed in 1869 by the collector Louis La Caze to the Louvre as a Frans Hals, was recently reassigned, because of its "somewhat soft and buttery, overly wise workmanship," to a collaborator of the master, perhaps one of his sons, Jan.

A Portrait of a Man attributed to Frans Hals was sold by Sotheby's in 2011 for £8.5 million. Following an investigation revealing the painting's forgery, the auction house fully refunded its client. The painting had been classified as a national treasure in 2008 by the French Ministry of Culture when it was offered for sale by art dealer Giuliano Ruffini (en). The attempt of the Louvre Museum to raise the funds that would have allowed its acquisition, having failed, the painting was sold to the art dealer Mark Weiss and the London company Fairlight Art Ventures in 2010 and then resold by mutual agreement through Sotheby's to the American collector Richard Hedreen.

By the end of the eighteenth century, for example, the work of Frans Hals was denigrated. For example, the portrait of Johannes Acronius fetched five shillings at an Enschede sale in 1786, and the portrait of the Man with a Sword in the Liechtenstein Museum sold in 1800 for 4.5 shillings. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, his rehabilitation among art lovers led to an extraordinary increase in the prices achieved by his works. For example, at the Secretan sale in 1889, the portrait of Pieter van den Broecke sold for 4,420, while in 1908 the National Gallery paid 25,000 for the large group portrait from the collection of Lord Talbot of Malahide.

The first major success for Sotheby's Gallery in 1913 was a painting by Frans Hals. The work sold for 9,000 guineas.

Latest results for the sale of paintings by or attributed to Frans Hals:


  1. Frans Hals
  2. Frans Hals
  3. Les sources divergent concernant l'année exacte de sa naissance. Une source – il est vrai ancienne – indique que celle-ci découlerait principalement, si pas uniquement, d'une déclaration de Vincent Laurensz. Van der Vinne, qui aurait été l'élève de Frans Hals, et selon laquelle le maître aurait été âgé de 85 ou 86 ans au moment de sa mort (1666). Ce qui impliquerait que les œuvres que, même sans certitude, on considère comme les plus anciennes de Hals auraient été exécutées alors que celui-ci était déjà âgé d'une trentaine d'années. Tandis que d'autres sources modernes, plutôt fiables (sites de musées), le font naître plus tôt, entre 1580 et 1581, le Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie (RKD) – qui sur son site récolte des données uniquement factuelles sur base des recherches les plus récentes – indique pour sa part, pour situer la naissance de Hals, la fourchette 1582-1583 mais, hélas, sans donner davantage de précisions.
  4. (fr)Tout l'œuvre peint de Frans Hals 1976, p. 5
  5. RKD.
  6. Van Mander quitte Haarlem pour venir se fixer à Amsterdam vers 1603-1604.
  7. L'indication figure dans la seconde édition (1618) du Schilder-boeck de Van Mander.
  8. Εθνική Βιβλιοθήκη της Γερμανίας: (Γερμανικά, Αγγλικά) Gemeinsame Normdatei. 118545221. Ανακτήθηκε στις 12  Αυγούστου 2015.
  9. 2,00 2,01 2,02 2,03 2,04 2,05 2,06 2,07 2,08 2,09 2,10 2,11 2,12 2,13 2,14 2,15 2,16 2,17 2,18 2,19 (Αγγλικά) ECARTICO. Ανακτήθηκε στις 3  Αυγούστου 2023.
  10. ^ "Hals, Frans". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 26 August 2022.
  11. ^ "Hals". Dictionary. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  12. 1650. körül; Metropolitan Művészeti Múzeum, New York.

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