One of the great Dutch painters of the Golden Age, Frans Hals is a name synonymous with revolutionary portraiture. As the name suggests, Hals was well known for his portraits which were dimmed in his signature painting style. His style was unique in a way that it managed to capture the light on the face of his portraits and the atmosphere as well. Hals was also not afraid of breaking convention with his painting brush and breaking free from traditional portraits. Hals had no idea his work would go on to inspire generations of artists as well as the Impressionist movement 200 years down the line. Most of Hals paintings can be found in Netherlands today, Hals happened to be a loyal patriot. Even though the art of other cities lured him, Hals heart was always drawn back to his Dutch homeland. The main reason why Hals paintings stood out was due to his ‘rough style ‘ of brush strokes and using colors so abundantly, in simple terms his style of painting was very loose compared to his contemporaries in that era.
Frans Hals was born in 1580 in Antwerp, Belgium to a cloth merchant. Due to the Spanish invasion Hals family was forced to relocate to Haarlem where they established themselves. A love for art evolved soon in Hals and he began an apprenticeship with Karel van Mander, and by the age of 27 had established himself as one of the rising artists of Haarlem. Gradually Hals name even reached Paris and to this day he is greatly admired as one of the more inspiring artists of the Realist and Impressionist movements. Hals paintings had a deep manifestation of life – due to his use of colourful palettes and bold brushworks. Rather than the vulnerable and sad paintings of those times one had faces from all walks of life painted in a glorious manner and giving just about the tiniest relevant information away. So beloved is Hals that his larger than life statue can be found in Florapark in Haarlem. Hals breakthrough painting is considered to be the Banquet of the Officers of the St George Militia Company. It is a group portrait of men in arms all clad in their finest gallantry and in full authoritative manner. From the painting it looks as if it was painted with real life subjects in front of Hals who were in deep conversation with one another. In reality it was all in Hals head, which is why he is considered to be one of the greats. Not only did Hals play around with colors, his paintings were mostly down to his imagination. He was a master of improvisation and creating a scene of interaction in between the characters in his paintings.
During his life, Hals painted a total of 300 paintings. Most of them were portraits; he received some criticism for painting mostly wealthy members of the Dutch society. Hals capitalised on the high demand of portraits during the Golden Age. At times when he did have models for his paintings, Hals preferred to paint as he saw the subject to be – not just what was simply before him. As he grew older, Hals painting methods evolved, he started painting more freely and with abandon. Little did he know that his methodologies and techniques would go on to become a legacy and be revived two centuries later.