2016年10月6日 星期四

Frans Hals (Dutch, 1582/83–1666):'Young Man holding a Skull (Vanitas)' Merrymakers at Shrovetide

  1. National Gallery
    October's picture of the month is 'Young Man holding a Skull (Vanitas)' by Frans Hals. Here, the young man wears an Italian costume made popular among painters in the Netherlands by artists influenced by Caravaggio and the bare interior setting recalls some of Caravaggio’s earlier works. Learn more about this painting here: http://bit.ly/2dt4ADN

  2. Frans Hals died #onthisday in 1666. The Dutch portrait painter is famed for his loose, flowing style that emphasised the movement and liveliness of the people he painted. This drawing shows his swift and purposeful lines, and subtle handling of tone. http://ow.ly/9u8C303f91W
Happy Mardi Gras! This work by Hals depicts Vastenavond (Shrovetide or Mardi Gras), a pre-Lenten carnival featuring bad food and worse behavior.
Featured Artwork of the Day: Frans Hals (Dutch, 1582/83–1666) | Merrymakers at Shrovetide | ca. 1616–17 http://met.org/1OjjhFh

  1. Frans Hals
  2. Frans Hals the Elder was a Dutch Golden Age portrait painter who lived and worked in Haarlem, though he was born in the Southern Netherlands. Wikipedia
  3. DiedAugust 26, 1666, Haarlem, Netherlands
  4. PeriodsBaroque, Dutch Golden Age

The loud style of this early work by Hals suits its subject, which is Vastenavond (Shrovetide or Mardi Gras), a pre-Lenten carnival featuring bad food and worse behavior.
Featured Artwork of the Day: Frans (Dutch, 1582/83–1666) | Merrymakers at Shrovetide | ca. 1616–17 http://met.org/1CHr7DH

Faces Still Alive, Centuries Later/ Hals (1582 or ’83-1666)
Faces Still Alive, Centuries Later
By ROBERTA SMITHPublished: July 28, 2011

The most useful knowledge we have about the great 17th-century Dutch painter Frans Hals is what we glean from the vibrant, shimmering surfaces of his art. He was an amazingly gifted technician, capable of defining the human face in passages of seemingly quick, vivacious brush strokes that convey both physical solidity and expressive fluidity. He was also something of an empath, intuitively alert, it would seem, to what was going on behind those faces. He approached his subjects with an open, nonjudgmental equanimity, whether he depicted them singly or in groups, in dignified repose or unbridled revelry. 

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Frans Hals in the Metropolitan Museum uses all of the museum's works by Hals, including “Portrait of a Man,” from 1636-38. More Photos » 


 Slide Show

Combining these strengths, Hals (1582 or ’83-1666) created some of the liveliest, most accessible images of men, women and children in the history of European painting. As seen in a small gem of an exhibition devoted to Hals at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, his subjects, now at least 340 years old and counting, appear to inhabit a physical and psychic space that is nearly continuous with our own. 

Organized by Walter Liedtke, the Met’s curator of Dutch and Flemish painting, “Frans Hals in the Metropolitan Museum” is the museum’s latest attempt to illuminate simultaneously the history of art and its own institutional evolution by capitalizing on its permanent collection. It is more concisely shaped than some of its predecessors, partly because the Met owns only 11 confirmed Hals paintings — albeit more than any other American museum. Since all but two were purchased by their donors and given to the Met from 1887 to 1913, the show definitely reaches back in time. But mainly it provides a remarkably full tutorial on Hals’s achievements. 

Mr. Liedtke has divided the paintings into two galleries that emphasize the main moods of Hals’s art: first revelry, then repose. In the first the works are bright with color, movement and noise, not to mention bawdiness. Painted between 1616 and 1625, they give us the early Hals at his most rambunctious, in depictions of a musician, a smoker and some drinkers and Mardi Gras celebrators. Mostly through cropping and enlargement, these works elevate genre painting into a form of clear-eyed portraiture, even when based on stereotypes rather than on real people, and in their sense of motion they sometimes presage the modern snapshot. 

The second gallery is dominated by a more restrained, usually older Hals, the painter of probing portraits of the business and cultural elite of Haarlem, his adopted hometown in the Netherlands. Color is almost absent in these works. Instead the artist who van Gogh admiringly noted commanded a repertory of 27 blacks holds sway, and psychological subtlety seems the first order of business. 

But either way, a strange kind of gravity and sympathy for the human condition emanate from these works, raw as they can sometimes be. In the first gallery consider the crowded, forward-pressing wall of humankind that we encounter in the unrepentantly ribald “Merrymakers at Shrovetide.” The earliest work attributed to Hals, it dates from late 1616 or 1617 and was painted shortly after he returned from spending three months in Antwerp, seeing what he could see of works by masters of the Northern Baroque, primarily Rubens and Jacob Jordaens, as well as the efforts of the prodigy Anthony van Dyck. 

Borrowing Rubens’s ruddy palette, the crowded “Merrymakers” confronts us with an assortment of lewd gestures and references (many involving food) and a leering, see-ya-later-wink-wink couple, the female half of which is probably a man in women’s clothing. But it is the flushed face of a slightly tipsy man in a large black hat who stares directly, if blearily, toward us from the upper middle of the picture that provides its emotional still point and an unexpectedly sharp edge of melancholic consciousness. 

This self-awareness is not so far removed from the better behaved, more alert gentlemen in the following gallery, most especially an extraordinary portrait from 1636-38 of a man thought to be Nicolaes Pietersz Duyst van Voorhout, a wealthy beer brewer and art collector. He wears a genteel white lace collar and a satin jacket that is a shimmering study in grays; both contrast strikingly with his level, appraising gaze and homely mug. He is not missing a trick. 

Hals’s extraordinary gifts could have equally served still life or landscape painting. You get a glimpse or two of his potential in those directions at the Met. In addition, he lived in a time when history painting and religious subjects brought more prestige and higher prices. But, as the distinguished art historian and Hals scholar Seymour Slive once wrote, “Apparently Hals only felt inspired to paint when he was confronted by a fellow human being.” 

His ability to depict real people living life in the moment had no equal in his own time. This is saying something, since his late-blooming, five-decade career overlapped fairly concisely with those of younger masters like Velázquez (1599-1660) and Rembrandt (1606-1669). But while these artists might have achieved an elevated sense of human character, Hals trumped them in terms of irrepressible, earthbound immediacy. 

He sliced down time to a nearly photographic instant, an effect achieved through the sharply aimed glances and casual yet telling gestures of his subjects, and mirrored in his animated brushwork. Those he painted were not royal, biblical or mythological, but tended to be his contemporaries and near equals. Above all, his light was clean and transparent, a far cry from Rembrandt’s murky, time-freezing atmospheres. (Full disclosure: I often find Rembrandt much more convincing on paper than on canvas.) 

Hals’s combination of life, light and brushwork ultimately made him one of the riverheads of modernity. But it took some time. In the 200 years after his death, his loose handling of paint, which the Dutch called rough style, was out of fashion to such an extent that his canvases were often viewed as unfinished. But this roughness attracted French painters of the 19th century who harbored realist or Impressionist inclinations, starting with Courbet, Manet and Monet, as well as later figures, including van Gogh and Americans like James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent. The high regard for Hals among 19th-century artists rubbed off on 19th-century collectors, particularly Americans of the Gilded Age who helped establish and stock the Met. 

Mr. Liedtke has amplified the Met’s 11 Halses with two portraits borrowed from private collections that are unlike anything by him that the museum owns. One is “The Fisher Girl,” a riot of spiky brushwork that, curiously, was deaccessioned by the Brooklyn Museum in 1967. You can imagine it inspiring the turn-of-the-century American Realists who called themselves the Eight and fervently admired Hals. (Most particularly their leader, Robert Henri. His “Dutch Girl in White,” of 1907, which hangs in an ancillary gallery, was actually painted in Haarlem, where Henri had gone to study Hals’s work.) 

The other loan is a small, exquisite portrait on copper of the minister and poet Samuel Ampzing — the most finely wrought Hals here — who, it would seem, has just closed the book he is reading to turn his full attention to us. It hangs on a wall with three other portraits that feature one of each sitter’s hands in ways that enhance intimacy both spatial and emotional, including the equally small, grave portrayals of Petrus Scriverius and his wife, Anna van der Aar. 

The show also includes two Met paintings that were once, but are no longer, attributed to Hals. One is a small copy of a self-portrait that indicates that Hals himself was rather nondescript. The other is a copy of the artist’s snarling “Malle Babbe” (or Mad Meg), one of Hals’s ambiguous genre portraits, which is part close-up pub scene but also possibly based on a real person who lived in the Haarlem workhouse to which Hals’s mentally impaired son, Pieter, was confined. 

Acquired in 1871, the year after the Met was incorporated, it was included in the first exhibition the Met staged, in 1872, eight years before the opening of its first building in Central Park, but its authenticity was questioned as early as 1883. It is exhibited here next to an actual-size photograph of the real Hals “Malle Babbe” (in the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin), and the pairing underscores Mr. Liedtke’s argument that Hals’s surfaces, whatever their superficial air of speed and spontaneity, were not “impromptu” but carefully and deliberately wrought. (He contends this both in the wall label and in an excellent essay, published in a special edition of the Met’s bulletin, that charts and dispenses with several misconceptions about Hals and his art.) 

The exhibition concludes with a contextualizing selection of 10 additional works by artists ranging from Rubens to Jan Steen that peripatetically surveys Hals’s antecedents, contemporaries, rivals, students and followers. This display makes Hals seem all the more singular, even while feeling a trifle superfluous. The point has been more than made. 

“Frans Hals in the Metropolitan Museum” continues through Oct. 10 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; (212) 535-7710, metmuseum.org.