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Frans Hals: Master of the Fleeting Moment

In 2024, Berlin celebrates one of the greatest portrait painters of all time: Alongside Rembrandt and Vermeer, Frans Hals is one of the most outstanding Dutch painters of the 17th century.

  • Frans Hals, Singender Knabe mit Flöte, Detail, um 1627

    Frans Hals, Singender Knabe mit Flöte, Detail, um 1627

  • Frans Hals, Malle Babbe, Detail, um 1640, Berlin

    Frans Hals, Malle Babbe, Detail, um 1640, Berlin

  • Frans Hals, Catharina Hooft mit ihrer Amme, Detail, um 1619/20

    Frans Hals, Catharina Hooft mit ihrer Amme, Detail, um 1619/20

In addition to unconventional, expressive portraits, he was the first artist in Holland to paint social outsiders as individuals in portrait format. Like no other artist of the early modern period, Hals (1582/83-1666) the rediscovery of the Haarlem painter in the 19th century shaped the development of modern painting. In cooperation with the National Gallery, London, and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Gemäldegalerie is organising a comprehensive monographic exhibition of around 70 works.

Frans Hals is one of the most important portraitists of all time

In addition to large-format rifleman and regent pieces, he created numerous individual portraits of the Dutch bourgeoisie in Haarlem, where he spent almost his entire life. In addition, he painted genre figures such as singers, showmen and fishermen's children as close-up half-figures. Hals' works are characterised by unusually great liveliness and apt characterisation. His sketch-like paintings, executed with loose, bold brushstrokes, influenced the painting of the late 19th century. The Impressionists saw Hals as one of their forerunners.

Special exhibition in the Gemäldegalerie: works by Hals and his circle

With ten works, the Berlin Gemäldegalerie preserves one of the most extensive and top-class collections of paintings by Frans Hals worldwide, including highlights such as the "Malle Babbe", the "Portrait of Catharina Hooft with her Nurse" or the "Singing Boy with Flute".

In addition to a high-quality selection of paintings by Hals, the Berlin special exhibition also shows works by those around him, thus situating him as an exceptional figure in the context of his time. Among the 70 works are around 50 of the most important paintings by Frans Hals from over 20 public and private collections in Europe, the USA and Canada - including highlights such as "Isaac Abrahamsz. Massa and Beatrix van der Laen" from the Rijksmuseum, the "Young Man with Skull" from the National Gallery in London or "The Lute Player" from the Musée du Louvre in Paris. Also presented are works that have never been seen in Germany before, such as the monumental "De magere compagnie" shooter piece, over four metres wide.

Frans Hals as a pioneer of modernism

The unprecedentedly free style of painting that Hals employed for his portraits made him the most modern artist of his time. Instead of conventional poses, he reproduces the fleeting moment of a movement or expression. His masterly-illusionist painting style makes the sitters seem alive, open and approachable. Hals is dedicated to their individual idiosyncrasies in an unbiased manner, with curiosity, wit and sympathy. Laughter or smiling is a key element: he is unsurpassed in his ability to render laughing figures realistically.

Frans Hals paints social outsiders as devotedly as the bourgeois upper class of the Dutch Republic. In addition, he produced extraordinarily innovative genre paintings and life-size character studies: with them, he helped marginalised groups of society, which had no place in contemporary portraiture, to achieve previously unknown visibility.

Not only in this respect, but also because of his loose, virtuoso application of paint and the spontaneity and immediacy of his depictions, Hals can be considered a pioneer of modernism. At the end of the 19th century, his paintings became important models and sources of inspiration for realists and impressionists such as Max Liebermann, Wilhelm Leibl and Lovis Corinth. The Berlin exhibition in the Gemäldegalerie will show works by the aforementioned artists in the context of their great role model. This will not only put the spotlight on Hals' extraordinary artistic work, but also on the far-reaching impact of his works on the development of European painting.

Runtime: Fri, 12/07/2024 to Sun, 03/11/2024

Price info: Old Master Paintings Paintings from the 13th to 18th century.

Kulturforum all exhibitions: 20,00 €

Price: €12.00

Reduced price: €6.00

Reduced price info: Kulturforum all exhibitions: 10,00 €

Children and young people up to the age of 18 are admitted free of charge.

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