Hals Paintings Reproduction and Biography
Hals was born 1581/85, Antwerp, Spanish Netherlands
died Sept. 1, 1666, Haarlem, Neth.
Frans Hals was a Dutch painter of portraits and genre scenes, b. Antwerp. Hals spent most of his life in Haarlem, where he studied with Karel van Mander. Although his reputation was established early, much of his long life was passed in poverty. Hals paintings of scenes from everyday life were painted during the first half of his career, in a freer style than his formal portraits.
During the 1620s and 1630s, Hals was commissioned to paint large group portrait paintings of various companies of the civic guards in full regalia. Some of these “corporation paintings” are among the finest Frans Hals paintings. Each individual, and the group as a whole, is portrayed with remarkable vivacity and informality. Banquet of the Officers of the St. George Militia (1616; Haarlem) is an imposing early painting of this type.
In his later paintings Hals developed a cool palette, alternating blacks and grays with brilliant and sparkling color. The master reached the height of his renown in the 1630s. Hals painted, in these years, several groups and a number of important single portrait paintings (e.g., Lucas de Clercq; Rijks Mus.). His possessions were seized for debt in 1652, and difficult years followed. Four years before his death Hals was granted a pension by the town. At the age of 84 Hals painted two masterpiece paintings, The Governors of the Almshouse and Lady Regents of the Almshouse (both: Haarlem). These group portrait paintings have the same brilliant lighting and cool clarity as his gayer canvases.
Hals employed Caravaggesque lighting to capture momentary effects and give them authentic life. Hals worked rapidly, detailing his subjects with the utmost frankness and economy of means. Hals paintings are best seen in the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem. His notable paintings include Archers of St. George (three paintings), Archers of St. Adrian (two paintings), and Governors of St. Elizabeth Hospital (all: Haarlem); The Rael and Blaeuw Company, Married Couple, and The Merry Drinker (all: Rijks Mus.); Laughing Cavalier (1624; Wallace Coll., London); Malle Bobbe and The Smoker (both: Metropolitan Mus.). Hals paintings were not highly valued until the 19th cent. About one third of his 250 extant paintings are in American collections; the Metropolitan Museum has 12.
Five of Hals’s sons became painters. The foremost was Frans Hals, c.1618–c.1669, a skillful painter of still life and rustic scenes. Dirk Hals, c.1591–1656, brother of the elder Frans Hals, imitated his style but lacked his genius. Hals specialized in festivals and drinking scenes, his Merry Party (National Gall., London) being characteristic.