Programme: Frans Hals: A Survey of Current Research Programme: Frans Hals: A Survey of Current Research
PROGRAMME SUNDAY 8 JANUARY
Registration, coffee and tea
Lidewij de Koekkoek, Welcome address Marrigje Rikken, Introduction
Iconography and workshop practice
Frans Grijzenhout, ‘The religion(s) of Frans Hals’
Little is known about Frans Hals’s personal religious beliefs, feelings or convictions. He rarely painted religious subjects, and it is hard to distinguish references to religious denominations within the corpus of his painted portraits. However, we know that the population of Haarlem was divided along complex religious lines. How did Frans Hals navigate this intricate terrain as an artist and as a private person? And what role did religion play in the commissions he received in the course of his career?
Pieter Biesboer, ‘The so-called Portrait of Willem Coymans reconsidered’
The identification of the portrait Frans Hals painted of Willem Coymans in 1645 (Washington, National Gallery of Art) is based on an analysis of the inscription in the painting. Originally, it appeared to show the sitter’s age as 22; now it reads 26. Willem Coymans was baptized in 1623, but is he the actual sitter? To answer this question, establishing the reason for the apparent correction of the young man’s age turns out to be essential.
Norbert Middelkoop, ‘Facing Friends: Frans Hals’s Portraits of Painters’
During the second half of his career, Frans Hals portrayed a considerable number of fellow artists. His portraits of Adriaen van Ostade, Frans Post and Vincent van der Vinne are well-known, but others have come to us indirectly, either as references in inventories or as early reproductions. In this talk, Norbert Middelkoop focuses on what these portraits might tell us about Hals’s artistic production in his later years. Using both conventional and alternative criteria, he presents several new identification proposals.
11:15 – 11:30
Coffee and tea
11:30 – 12.40
Christopher D.M. Atkins, ‘Diverse Models in the Art of Frans Hals’
In a 2017 TED talk, contemporary artist Titus Kaphar invited audiences to readjust their focus by acknowledging and interpreting the presence of Black figures in paintings such as Frans Hals’s Family Group in a Landscape now in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. While scholars have taken up the challenge in the works of other early modern Dutch artists, especially Rembrandt, the various models in Frans Hals’s art remain unexamined. This paper reviews the presence of members of underrepresented communities (real and perceived) in Hals’s paintings, exploring the art-historical treatment of these pictures to date, and questioning how these works may be interpreted for the audiences of today and tomorrow.
Jaap van der Veen and Friso Lammertse, ‘Frans Hals’s workshop and his “volck”’
In 1636, Frans Hals informed the Amsterdam patrons who were urging him to complete the civic-guard piece they had commissioned him to paint, that he wished to finish it in Haarlem. He told them he needed to be with his ‘volck’, to keep an eye on them. By ‘volck,’ Hals meant the people, or workforce in his studio, namely the junior and advanced apprentices and ‘knechten’ or assistants. Little is known about his workshop’s modus operandi: for instance, it is unclear how many artists spent time there over the years. Fourteen painters can with some degree of certainty be identified as having attended the workshop, while a few others may only be surmised. On what do we base this, and what do we know about training and production in Hals’s workshop?
Marike van Roon, ‘Painted stitches: Dutch embroidery and the paintings of Frans Hals’
The portraits of Frans Hals – the master of black – have long determined our image of Dutch civil society in the first half of the 17th century. An image of great wealth and of great sobriety: in other words, an image of a prosperous Calvinist society. But is this image correct?
This presentation looks at the clothing and in particular the embroidery in Frans Hals’s paintings. What can we actually see? Were these really the clothes that citizens of Haarlem wore? Is the image of the embroidery correct? What does this embroidery say about the time, society and fashion, and the makers? And what does it say about the Haarlemmers that Frans Hals portrayed?
Reputation and research history
John Bezold, ‘The Many Frans Hals Exhibitions and Connoisseurs: From Thoré to Today’
Frances Suzman Jowell remarked in The Art Bulletin in 1974 that Frans Hals’s paintings have as often as not been discussed by connoisseurs and scholars who were not themselves from the Netherlands. The first of those was Théophile Thoré-Bürger (1807-1869). Thoré’s writings on Hals in the late-1850s and 1860s set the stage for later scholarship on Hals. This paper traces the work of these figures within this field as it relates to their scholarship and exhibitions of Hals’s work, their unpublished connoisseurial machinations, and the cumulative effects of their efforts over time. It then discusses the long-overlooked scholarship of Gerrit Gratama, director of the Frans Hals Museum from 1912-1946, whose work on Hals had a significant impact on his successors.
Emilie den Tonkelaar, ‘From a Parisian dining room to a German private museum: Frans Hals in the collections of Count André Mniszech and Marcus Kappel’
In February 1906, the board of London’s National Gallery politely declined the offer of six paintings by Frans Hals. They were too many at the same time, it was felt. For the collector who had acquired the works, Count André Mniszech (1823-1905), there had been no such thing as too many. A Pole living in Paris, he had owned no fewer than seven works by Frans Hals.
After Mniszech’s death, the paintings found their way into private collections, including that of Marcus Kappel (1839-1920) in Berlin. Kappel’s manner of collecting and exhibiting differed considerably from that of his Parisian predecessor.
Although Kappel already owned another two pieces by Frans Hals, the painting he had acquired from the sale of Mniszech’s estate was acclaimed as one of the finest in his collection. The Portrait of Catharina Brugman was one of the ‘Bilder, die die heisse Sehnsucht jedes Museumdirektors erwecken’.
Michiel Franken, ‘“Because you simply cannot argue about art with a chemist.” Hofstede de Groot and the affair of the Laughing Cavalier’
For Cornelis Hofstede de Groot, there was no question who was best qualified to judge the quality of a painting and assess whether it is genuine or fake. From the first page of his 1925 pamphlet Echt of onecht: Oog of chemie it is clear, in his opinion, that only a true connoisseur is capable of making this distinction. The pamphlet was prompted by a report commissioned by the Hague court about a painting which Hofstede de Groot had declared in 1923 to be by Frans Hals. Two museum directors and a professor of chemistry determined that it was not by Hals or any other 17th-century painter but fairly recently painted. This case, which received a lot of press coverage, is interesting because it is the first time in the Netherlands that a chemist acted as an expert in a lawsuit to unmask a forgery.
Coffee and tea
Anna Tummers and Robert Erdmann, ‘21st-Century Connoisseurship: A Closer Look at three Malle Babbes’
Many of Hals’s most innovative and well-known paintings exist in several variants. Attributing some of these versions or imitations can be very challenging. This case study sheds new light on the attribution of the Malle Babbe painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York by comparing its style, technique and materials in-depth to the well-known original by Frans Hals in Berlin, to the Malle Babbe forgery created by Han van Meegeren at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and by relating it to relevant primary sources and seventeenth-century art theory. Especially for this study, new technical research was done on all three paintings, including infrared reflectography (IRR), Macro X-ray fluorescence scanning (MA-XRF), hyperspectral imaging or reflectance imaging spectroscopy (HI/RIS) and lead isotope analysis. Also, advanced digital tools were developed to aid the comparison.
Bart Cornelis, ‘More than Meets the Eye: Hals’s Portrait of a Man from Chatsworth’
Technical examination at the National Gallery London of Frans Hals’s Portrait of a Man from Chatsworth has revealed that under early overpaint in the background of the picture there are some extraordinary details that not only explain the unusual pose of the sitter but also present clues that allow for a conclusive identification of the sitter. In this contribution these findings are presented for the first time with the help of technical images, while the work is also put in the context of Frans Hals’s oeuvre.
Defining the oeuvre
Ellis Dullaart, ‘RKD Study Frans Hals and his workshop: Beyond the traditional catalogue raisonné’
RKD is currently working on the publication of a digital monograph and catalogue raisonné on the life and work of Frans Hals, written by Prof. Claus Grimm, to appear in the RKD Studies platform. Because of the connection between this publishing platform and the RKD databases, the project will be far more than a traditional catalogue raisonné. In this presentation, project manager Ellis Dullaart gives an insight into the contents of the publication and the possibility of creating a digital catalogue raisonné within the context of the RKD’s online databases.
Lidewij de Koekkoek will award the Frans Hals Museum medal to Claus Grimm
PROGRAMME MONDAY 9 JANUARY
FRANS HALS MUSEUM HAARLEM
Coffee and tea
Mireille te Marvelde, ‘A box full of research: Early 20th-century documentation on the examination and restoration of the eight group portraits by Frans Hals’
This lecture outlines the (art) historical context and significance of the unique documentation of the restoration of the eight Frans Hals group portraits at the Frans Hals Museum between 1911 and 1927. It explains the background and reasons for the research and extensive documentation, as well as the importance of this material, this being the first interdisciplinary collaboration between art historians, restorers and chemists in the Netherlands in relation to the cleaning of artworks.
Besides written reports, the documentation includes a box of materials relating to scientific research, including samples of removed varnish and the earliest colour photographs taken during the cleaning process in the history of conservation.
During the recent conservation of Hals’s three Regents portraits, the study of this historical documentation enabled a deeper understanding of the condition of the paintings and their material history, while also shedding light on early 20th-century Dutch conservation history and art history. (Research carried out with Liesbeth Abraham, Herman van Putten and Michiel Franken)
Herman van Putten, ‘The restoration of Hals’s Regents of St Elisabeth’s Hospital’
Based on the variation in his paint consistency, it has been suggested that Frans Hals used variable binding media. We believe that this was indeed the case. The removal of the varnish from the 1641 Regents of St Elisabeth’s Hospital revealed some puzzling areas of damage. Further examination of these areas showed that Frans Hals probably used an aqueous binding medium in his first set up. While this may have had the advantage of speeding up the work process, it also enabled him to explore and define the composition. The specific loss of some of the brushstrokes related to this first sketch played an important role in our research. (Research carried out with Liesbeth Abraham, Mireille te Marvelde and Annelies van Loon)
Liesbeth Abraham, ‘Unfinished business? Comparing Hals’s Regents and Regentesses’
During the recent conservation of Frans Hals’s last paintings, The Regents and The Regentesses of the Old Men’s Alms House, the many similarities and differences between the two paintings were closely examined, providing new insights and a better understanding of Hals’s method of working.
In the past, the differences in the degree of finish between the two paintings have led scholars to comment on Hals’s old age, more precisely on his failing eyesight and lack of energy. More recently, it has also led to doubts concerning the attribution of the Regentesses and to the assumption that other hands were involved. This lecture discusses the differences in degree of finish and illustrates how they are not necessarily due to the work of different hands, but can also be explained by the fact that we’re looking at different phases in the painting process. (Research carried out with Herman van Putten)
The private and the public view
Claus Grimm, ‘Comparing details: on Frans Hals’s method of creating large-format paintings’
Modern imaging techniques and the increasing availability of high-resolution image files enable a new kind of precise recording of the entire tradition of visual design, especially drawings, prints and paintings. Detailed comparisons allow us to distinguish the artistic execution of various hands, identifying the characteristics of masters and their assistants. This is especially true where typical aspects of the master’s handiwork can be identified, as in the case of Frans Hals. It is also possible to distinguish the characteristics of damage and overpainting from the original painting.
Friso Lammertse, ‘Coming soon: the Frans Hals exhibition in London and Amsterdam’
The National Gallery and the Rijksmuseum are organizing an exhibition on Frans Hals, in collaboration with the Frans Hals Museum. This will run in London from 30 September 2023 to 21 January 2024, and in Amsterdam from 8 February to 9 June 2024. Featuring around fifty paintings, the exhibition will offer a survey of the artist’s entire oeuvre. What are the ideas behind this exhibition and which paintings can we expect to see?
Opportunity for small group sessions in the galleries
Access to the Frans Hals paintings and Newcomers exhibition.
This symposium is supported by the Rijksmuseum.