A look behind the canvas
In 2018 the three regent paintings by Frans Hals were extensively examined and conservated in the Frans Hals Museum’s conservation studio. Treatment was necessary to preserve the works, but also because of the poor aesthetic appearance, as they were covered with yellowed and cloudy varnish layers and showed several discoloured retouches.
The Frans Hals Museum has a tradition in examining and restoring works by this great master. You could even say that its origins, as seen worldwide, can be found in Haarlem. In the period 1911-1927 all eight group portraits were restored in the Frans Hals Museum. It was the first time that this happened in an interdisciplinary context: a close collaboration between an art historian, conservators and a chemist. The research that was carried out during this project led to the publication of a thesis in 1928, which featured the first findings about Hals’ use of materials and painting technique.
During the restoration of the civic guard portraits, and prior to and during the major Frans Hals exhibition of 1989/1990, material-technical research was continued in an interdisciplinary way with the latest methods. The findings from that time formed the basis for all further research into the work of this master.
The recent restoration of the regent paintings – which was carried out in a large collaboration and, once again, with the latest research methods – brought the knowledge about Hals’ painting technique to a higher level.