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Frans Hals, precursor of the impressionists...

After celebrating Vermeer and Rembrandt, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is presenting from February 16 to June 9, 2024 an exhibition of around fifty of the greatest paintings by the Dutch master Frans Hals.

The latter is considered one of the most innovative artists of the 17th century, thanks to his vivid and impressionistic painting style. With unprecedented boldness and talent, he captured the vitality of his subjects – from stately regents to joyous musicians to children – and made them live and breathe on canvas.

Le Cavalier qui rit, 1624, huile sur toile, 83 × 67,3 cm, The Wallace Collection, Londres (P84)
Le Cavalier qui rit, 1624, huile sur toile, 83 × 67,3 cm, The Wallace Collection, Londres (P84)

The Rijksmuseum exhibition marks a historic moment as Frans Hals' most famous painting, The Laughing Horseman (1624), returns to the Netherlands for the first time in over 150 years. It will travel from the Wallace Collection in London, where it has been on display since 1870.

Groupe familial dans un paysage, vers 1646, huile sur toile, 202 × 285 cm, Musée national Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid (1934.8)
Groupe familial dans un paysage, vers 1646, huile sur toile, 202 × 285 cm, Musée national Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid (1934.8)

Frans Hals (Antwerp 1582/1584 – Haarlem 1666) made it his goal as a painter to capture his subjects as the living, breathing, spirited people they were, in the most convincing way possible. He achieved this by deliberately and courageously developing a unique and entirely original style in 17th-century Dutch painting. Hals chose to use rapid brushwork to achieve unprecedented dynamism in his portraits. He is one of the rare artists in the history of Western art to have succeeded in painting smiling and laughing figures – most contemporary painters having hesitated to take on this challenge simply because it was too difficult.

Malle Babbe, vers 1640, huile sur toile, 78,5 × 66,2 cm, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin (801C)
Malle Babbe, vers 1640, huile sur toile, 78,5 × 66,2 cm, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin (801C)

The subjects of Hals' paintings come even more to life in this Rijksmuseum exhibition through explorations of their individual identities and social worlds. Malle Babbe, for example, must have been a familiar figure on the streets of Haarlem, and Pekelharing was probably a touring actor with a British theater company.

Fête des officiers de la milice de Saint-Georges, 1616, huile sur toile, 175 × 324 cm, Musée Frans Hals, Haarlem (OS I-109) [Amsterdam uniquement]
Fête des officiers de la milice de Saint-Georges, 1616, huile sur toile, 175 × 324 cm, Musée Frans Hals, Haarlem (OS I-109) [Amsterdam uniquement]

The artist's expressive, gestural brushwork has always been considered the most distinctive quality of his art and he can rightly be described as the precursor of Impressionism. Hals' virtuoso style influenced artists like Gustave Courbet, Édouard Manet, James McNeil Whistler, Claude Monet, Max Liebermann, Vincent van Gogh, John Singer Sargent and others. Almost all of them went to Haarlem to admire his portraits of individuals and civilian militias.


Museumstraat 1, Amsterdam

Hollande


In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the 19th century in France...


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