The art of laughter: humor in the Golden age

Exhibition November 11, 2017 − March 18, 2018
Naughty children, stupid peasants, foolish dandy and drugged drunkards, quack doctors, pimps, and the pimp, lazy maids and lusty ladies – all of them are in large quantities present in the masterpieces of the Dutch Golden age. Not only where and when there was a number of humorous pictures. "The art of laughter: humor in the Golden age" in The Museum Franz Hals in the Hague represents the first ever review of humor in the painting of the XVII century.

Frans Hals is often called the "master of laughter". It gave vitality to his portraits better than any other artist of the Golden age and was one of the few painters of that era who dared to depict his characters are often ordinary people – genuinely laughing and showing teeth. Now, centuries later, of visual jokes in the paintings of Hals more difficult to understand. Only thanks to new research, particularly over the last twenty years, we begin to understand the full humor of the period.

The exhibition presents sixty masterpieces from the low-lying Land of Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Judith Leister, Adriaen Brouwer, Gerrit van Honthorst, Jan Molenar and Nicolas Mas. The work of these and other artists are shown in the context of seven specific topics, including mischief, slapstick, love and lust, each of them dedicated to a separate room. The exhibition ends with a comic self-portraits where the artists poke fun at themselves.

Paintings is supplemented by a selection of comic books are incredibly popular in the XVII century, which confirm the reputation of the Dutch as very cheerful people. According to the Italian writer, Ludovico Guicciardini, who was then living in the Netherlands, the Dutch were "very friendly, they are, above all, humorous, funny, a play on words, though sometimes excessive".