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Recent Acquisitions: Frans Hals, Portrait of a Man, 1640s

Hood Quarterly, spring/summer 2010

Frans Hals, an early-seventeenth-century Dutch painter, specialized in portraiture; his great success in Haarlem brought him many commissions. He was renowned for his portrayals of prominent civic groups and wealthy individuals.

Hals’s loose style and vivid brushwork created a more spontaneous appearance than that of the work of many of his contemporaries; this imbued his paintings with a lively and direct manner. The innovative technique, while praised by many critics of the day, was not easily acquired by his pupils. However, the vitality and immediacy of Hals’s style were qualities that impressionist artists later championed in the nineteenth century.

Although this picture was cut down, possibly in the seventeenth century, it nevertheless expresses wonderfully the power of Hals’s portraits. It is also in excellent condition. The painting is an important addition to the museum’s holdings from the golden age of Dutch art, which includes works by De Heem, Rembrandt, and Cornelis Saftleven.

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