From February 16 to June 9, 2024, nearly fifty of Frans Hals’ most beautiful paintings, from prestigious international collections, will be exhibited at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Organized in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art in London and the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin, the “Frans Hals” exhibition benefits from the exceptional support of the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem.
The freedom and liveliness of his impressionist touch place Frans Hals among the most innovative painters of the 17th century. His portraits of regents, joyful musicians or laughing children demonstrate unequaled talent and audacity; they are so full of life that they almost seem to breathe for real.
Among the exclusives at the Rijksmuseum exhibition in 2024 will be paintings like the Banquet of officers of the civic guard of Saint-Georges from 1616 and Lhe regents of the old people’s hospice (Frans Hals Museum), the Portraits of Lucas de Clercq and Feyntje van Steenkiste (Rijksmuseum) and Young Boy Laughing (Mauritshuis). This is the first Hals exhibition presented in the Dutch capital. Visitors are also invited to discover Haarlem, the city of the artist’s birth and work, 20 minutes away by train.
The exhibition “Frans Hals” is on display in the Philips Wing of the Rijksmuseum. Reserving a visit slot is mandatory. Tickets have been on sale since August 15, 2023, on the website www.rijksmuseum.nl.
First retrospective in over 30 years
After the monographic exhibitions on Rembrandt (in 2015 and 2019) and Vermeer (in 2023), the Rijksmuseum is devoting for the first time a major retrospective to Frans Hals (Antwerp 1582/1584 – Haarlem 1666). This is the first major retrospective on Hals since exhibitions in 1989 and 1990 at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem and the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
The masterpieces in the exhibition vividly demonstrate that Frans Hals set himself the goal of representing a living – and therefore moving – human being in the most convincing way possible. To achieve this, he deliberately and boldly developed his own style, completely original in 17th century Dutch painting. Hals opted for a set of rapid touches which give his portraits an unparalleled liveliness. The exhibition also highlights the identity of the characters represented and their way of life, making them even more alive. It thus appears that Trunk Babbe must have been a well-known figure on the streets of Haarlem and that the Happy Drinker was probably an English actor touring the Netherlands with his theater troupe.
During his lifetime, Frans Hals was considered a virtuoso due to the originality of his style and technique, which only painters like Rembrandt in the Netherlands and Velázquez in Spain could match. A highly sought-after portraitist, he was able to build up a rich clientele of wealthy bourgeois people, originating not only from Haarlem, but also from other Dutch cities. Hals’ work slowly fell into obscurity during the 18th century. It was not until the second half of the 19th century that it was rediscovered, like that of Vermeer, by the French art critic and journalist Théophile Thoré-Bürger (1807-1869). Until the 1960s, Rembrandt, Vermeer and Frans Hals were spoken of as the “big three” of 18th-century Dutch painting. Then Hals attracted less attention from specialists and amateurs. Reason enough for the Rijksmuseum, the National Gallery of Art in London and the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin to give him back the place he deserves by showing a new generation how innovative his work was.
Precursor of impressionism
The very fluid and loose brushstroke has always been considered the most characteristic feature of Hals’ art. He can rightly be considered the precursor of impressionism. With his virtuoso touch, Hals influenced painters such as Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, James McNeil Whistler, Claude Monet, Max Liebermann, Vincent van Gogh and John Singer Sargent. Almost everyone came to Haarlem to admire his portraits and paintings of militiamen.
The “Frans Hals” exhibition brings together numerous masterpieces among the approximately 200 paintings painted by the artist, such as The Laughing Horseman (1624, Wallace Collection, London), which is on loan for the first time since 1870, the Portrait of Catherina Hooft with her nanny (around 1619-1620) and Trunk Babbe (around 1640, Gemäldegalerie Berlin), the Family Portrait in a Landscape (around 1646, Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid), the Young woman presenting fruits and vegetables (1630, private collection) and The Jester on the Lute (around 1623, Louvre Museum). The Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem has agreed to lend no fewer than four portraits of regents and militiamen. THE Banquet of officers of the corps of archers of Saint-Georges (1616, Frans Hals Museum), the oldest painting of Hals militiamen, had never left Haarlem before.