Ruth Leon recommends… Frans Hals – National Gallery

Ruth Leon recommends… Frans Hals – National Gallery

Ruth Leon recommends

norman lebrecht

September 02, 2023

Frans Hals – National Gallery

 Why did Frans Hals paint monsters in his friend’s portrait? Hals was one of the most sought-after painters of his generation. A gifted artist whose deft brushwork was unparalleled, he built his reputation on a new style of portrait – highly unusual in his time – that showed relaxed, lively sitters, often smiling, and even laughing.

This exhibition at the National Gallery, the first major retrospective of Hals in more than thirty years, means a new generation can discover why he deserves his place as one of the greatest painters in Western art.

Bert Cornelis, Curator of Dutch and Flemish paintings at the Natl Gallery and Curator of the upcoming Franz Hals exhibition (running Sep 30-Jan 21), explains the meaning behind a hidden monster and skull in this 17th-century portrait by Frans Hals, and how they helped to identify the sitter as Hals’ friend, Isaac Massa.   He’s accompanied by restorer, Paul Ackroyd, and Larry Keith, Head of Conservation and Keeper.

Between them, they reveal this painting’s secrets.

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