Fall 2018: Frans Hals and the Moderns – A blockbuster exhibition

May 18, 2018

The revamped Frans Hals Museum is staging a blockbuster exhibition opening on October 13, 2018: Frans Hals and the Moderns. It is exactly 150 years since Frans Hals was rediscovered. Since then, he has ceased to be regarded as a profligate drunkard. Nineteenth-century painters like Manet, Liebermann, Singer Sargent and Van Gogh admired him as an icon. With around eighty loans from museums all over the world, the exhibition reflects the huge impact that Hals had on these modern painters. For the first time, his paintings will be set against responses to his work by artists painting in the late nineteenth century, that other heyday of painting, revealing just how progressive Frans Hals was: ‘Frans Hals, c’est un moderne’.

Rediscovering Frans Hals

Exactly 150 years ago – in 1868 – Frans Hals was rediscovered by the influential French art critic Théophile Thoré-Bürger. Art critics had disregarded Hals for most of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth. His innovative painting style with his lose touch no longer chimed with the prevailing academic style. This loose painting style was associated with his ‘licentious’ lifestyle and presented as a poor example. This meant that his paintings were worth little in the art market and Frans Hals’s name did not feature in most works about the Golden Age.

Thoré-Bürger (who was also instrumental in rediscovering Vermeer) discussed Hals’s work in various publications, but it was two articles for the influential art magazine Gazette des Beaux-Arts, in which he extolled the artist’s virtues, that had the most impact. Thoré-Bürger specifically cited Hals’s virtuosity and daring brushwork as an example to modern artists. The articles sparked renewed interest in Hals’s paintings and a reassessment of his style among contemporary painters. The price of his works skyrocketed, and every respected museum and collector was eager to acquire a Hals. Many painters – to begin with mainly French, but soon German, English and American too – travelled hundreds of miles to Haarlem, which became a veritable place of pilgrimage for artists, where they could admire Hals’s work in the recently opened Gemeentemuseum (1862).

Frans Hals and the Moderns

The 150th anniversary of this rediscovery is an opportunity to stage an exhibition about the grand master of the portrait. Frans Hals and the Moderns: Hals Meets Manet, Singer Sargent, Van Gogh reveals the strength of Hals’s influence on painters in the second half of the nineteenth century. Frans Hals was admired, even worshipped by late nineteenth-century artists like Edouard Manet, Max Liebermann, John Singer Sargent, James Ensor, Mary Cassatt, Gustave Courbet, McNeill Whistler, William Merritt Chase, Henri Fantin-Latour and Vincent van Gogh. They were impressed by his lose touch and rough manner, which they saw as ‘impressionist’. This exhibition, which runs from October 13, 2018 to February 10, 2019 in the Frans Hals Museum, in the Hof, features some eighty loans reflecting the impact Hals had on these modern painters. For the first time in the history of art, paintings by Frans Hals will be placed alongside works and artists he inspired.

Two Magnificent Exhibitions in Haarlem

This fall there is a magnificent exhibition within a stone’s throw of the Frans Hals Museum. From October 5, 2018 to January 6, 2019 Teylers Museum is staging a unique exhibition of drawings in the run-up to the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death. More than thirty original drawings by the world-famous Leonardo (1452-1519) are coming to Haarlem. Leonardo’s ability to express emotions is at the heart of this exhibition. Leading international collections including those of the British Museum, the Uffizi in Florence, the Louvre and the Royal Library in Windsor Castle are loaning us these fragile drawings. Some have never been seen in the Netherlands before. Teylers Museum and the Frans Hals Museum are offering a ticket covering both exhibitions at a reduced price. For sale online only from August 22, 2018. 


The exhibition is supported by Patrons of the Frans Hals Museum, Van Toorn Scholten Stichting, BankGiro Loterij, Turing Foundation, VSBfonds, Fonds 21, Friends of the Frans Hals Museum, City of Haarlem and by the Dutch government: an indemnity grant has been provided by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands on behalf of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science.