As good as new

René Gerritsen

Three Frans Hals Masterpieces Back after Four Years
Three of Frans Hals’s finest works are now back on display. Over the last four years the world-famous governors’ portraits have undergone comprehensive restoration. Yellowed layers of varnish and discoloured retouches were removed, and the paintings can now be seen closer to their original state than ever before. As Good as New? runs from 18 January to 18 March.

As Good as New?
These are the portraits of the Governors of St Elisabeth’s Hospital (1641), the Governors of the Old Men’s Home and the Governesses of the Old Men’s Home (both c. 1664). The paintings will be exhibited for the next two months. Visitors’ viewing experience will be enhanced by an audio description of each painting provided by the restorers. There is also a documentary film entitled ‘Dichterbij Hals’ (Closer to Hals) providing information about the research and the restoration process.

The three works were last subject to full restorations almost a century ago. Their poor aesthetic and physical condition made the recent treatments essential if the paintings were to be preserved for the future. Yellowed layers of varnish, old discoloured retouches and overpainting were removed; the canvases were reinforced and the damaged areas retouched. Frans Hals’s compositions and brushstrokes can now be seen much more clearly. Visitors are invited to renew their acquaintance with Hals’s extraordinary artistic talent.

New Insights into the Master Painter
Research during the recent restorations has provided many new insights into the way Frans Hals worked, the original appearance of the paintings and the extent to which they have changed over time. It has revealed, for instance, that the tablecloths and curtains in the portraits of the Governors and Governesses of the Old Men’s Home had badly discoloured; originally they were greyish green.

Documentary
For several years documentary makers Marcel van der Velden and Krista Arriëns followed the team of restorers and made a documentary about the project. 'Dichterbij Hals’ (Closer to Hals) will be broadcast by AVROTROS during Kunstuur on NPO2 at 5.40 p.m. on 28 January.

The restoration and research were made possible thanks to the BankGiro Lottery, Friends of the Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem, the Mondriaan Fonds and the Prince Bernhard Cultuurfonds through its Atelierpraktijkenfonds. In 2011 the Elisabeth van Thüringen Fund gifted the portrait of the Governors of St Elisabeth’s Hospital to the Frans Hals Museum’s collection.

Benefactors

  • Bank Giro Loterij
  • Mondriaanfonds
  • Haarlem