National Gallery, London
© National Gallery, London
Category:News Resources

Frans Hals comes to London

Oct. 19, 2022

One of the world’s best-known pictures Frans Hals’s 'The Laughing Cavalier' will be loaned for the first time in autumn 2023. The portrait will be a major draw in an exhibition at the National Gallery London that will be the largest devoted to the artist’s work for more than thirty years.

Frans Hals’s painting, dating from 1624, will be on loan from the Wallace Collection, London, to The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Frans Hals at the National Gallery, the first monographic exhibition of the 17th-century Dutch portrait painter for a generation.

'The Laughing Cavalier' is one of the finest of the artist’s work which, in his own lifetime, was recognised for its exceptionally lively characterisation of people. He was one of very few artists throughout the history of Western painting who successfully managed to paint people smiling and laughing, a challenge shunned by most painters because it was so difficult.

The portrait will be accompanied in the exhibition, by some fifty of the artist’s greatest works from museums and private collections from around the world.

The exhibition will follow a largely chronological display of portraits, with separate sections for genre paintings and small portraits, allowing space for Hals’s unsurpassed group portraits from the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, which have rarely left the city since they were painted some four centuries ago.

Since the rediscovery of his work in the 19th century, Hals’s paintings have been held in high regard and have been popular with the public, but it is more than thirty years since a large exhibition devoted to his work was held (in Washington, London, and Haarlem, in 1989–90).

Hals’s quick painting technique earned him his reputation as a virtuoso whose handling of the brush was equalled only by the likes of Rembrandt in the Netherlands or Velázquez in Spain. However, his work more or less faded into oblivion for much of the 18th and 19th centuries, his bravura as a painter waiting to be rediscovered in the second half of the 19th century by the art critic and journalist Théophile Thoré-Bürger, who rediscovered Vermeer; and by the Impressionists, who greatly admired Hals’s brushwork.

The exhibition is organised by the National Gallery and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam with the special collaboration of the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem. It will be shown at the Rijksmuseum from 16 February to 9 June 2024, following its display at the National Gallery. At the National Gallery 'The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Frans Hals' is curated by Bart Cornelis, the Gallery’s Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings. At the Rijksmuseum, the exhibition is curated by Friso Lammertse, Curator of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Paintings.

The exhibition will run from 30 September 2023 to 21 January 2024.

Did you find this interesting? Discover more