FRANS HALS: A celebration of art and life
In London, I walked for a couple of hours back and forth across the creaking parquet floors of National Gallery. I had been there before looking for some of my favourites – Hogarth’ shrimp vendor, van Eyck’s bride and groom, Bellini’s doge, Holbein’s ambassadors, Vermeer’s lady at the spinet, Van Gogh’s and Dealcriox’s self-portraits, Turner’s Temeraire, Campin’s Madonna, Crivelli’s Annunciation, Cosimo Tura’s Calliope and many more. The visit lasted for hours and turned into a time-consuming pleasure.
Seized by the refined shades of grey and the shimmering surface of the skull, I was left standing in front of Frans Hals’ Young Man with a Skull. The delight of museum visits consists of the opportunity to approach a painting up close and thus distinguish brushwork and shifting light, the structure of the paint layers, as well as looking at art from both afar and very close.
Earlier I had in a similar fashion studied Hals’ gypsy girl in the Louvre; smiling, alive and healthy looking, she casts a glimpse at someone outside the picture frame, maybe a tavern customer.
Perhaps Haarlem’s full-bodied beer was exported to London, where I had just been captivated by another girl with an even more winning and open smile than Hals’ gypsy lady, namely Hogarth’s red-cheeked shrimp saleswoman, made with the same light brushwork as the gypsy in the Louvre, albeit with browner colour tones. Perhaps Hogarth had been inspired by Hals, who through his virtuoso technique has been an inspiration for many an artist, in particular pioneering masters like Courbet, van Gogh and Manet.
an embroidered silk sleeve:
In many ways, Frans Hals, like Cezanne, is an artist whose revolutionary technique has been especially appreciated by other, like-minded artists. Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), the eighteenth-century acclaimed portrait painter who in 1768 was appointed president of the newly established Royal Academy of Arts and furthermore was ennobled by George III, approvingly described Frans Hals’ in his academy lectures, Discourses: