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Group portrait of the Regents of the asylum for the aged in Harlem

Frans Hals • Painting, 1664, 172.3×256 cm
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Portrait
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1664
Size: 172.3×256 cm
Artwork in selections: 15 selections

Description of the artwork «Group portrait of the Regents of the asylum for the aged in Harlem»

"Group portrait of the Regents of the nursing home in Harlem" is the picture of the five Trustees of the city almshouse and the commandant, who, with his colleague-a woman ruled the daily life of the shelter. Frans Hals wrote this canvas for Mannenhuis Oude ("Old house") together with picture companion representing Regents. Although these paintings are a pair, they hung in different rooms, one in the men's boardroom, the other in the female.

The Regents of the hostel for impoverished elderly people over 60 years old sitting around the table, and the Ranger stands behind them. Thanks to researchers, we know their names (except commandant): Jonas de Jong, Matthaus Marivin, Dr. Cornelis Westerlo, Daniel Danet and John Wallace, but as the portrait of Regents, it is unclear which is which.

Hals wrote them in his usual careless manner, quick visible brush strokes. Although the picture is traditionally dated 1664 year, there is no archival evidence to support this. The lack of carefully prescribed the details and final finish leads experts to the conclusion that the painting created at the end of the artist's life, when he wrote more freely than in my younger years.

Since 1650's, Hals model – first fun and full of life – becoming more rigorous and felicitous. The painter stops to unite the whole composition into one powerfully expressed the human mass, but instead binds the individual figures fragile thread, weaving in the patterns the sparks of vitality. The role of the "nervous system" inside the canvas is light which animates the flesh is apathetic sitters, awakens the person from unconscious sleep.

Interpretation of group portraits of the Regents and Regents has varied over the centuries. For many years I thought that second from right, the man drunk, but now many believe that the Hals are very accurately portrayed real paralysis of the face. It is also presented in an unflattering light, allegedly in retaliation for his overly harshly treated while living at the shelter. However, the fact that the artist, though, and come down to poverty by the end of his life, was never an inhabitant of the almshouses, although they might have been thinking to settle there. However, when you look at a stern look as the Regents and Regents, the audience is probably scared of the prospect to face with him as the petitioner.

But now scientists believe that Hals was just imagining the aging of men and women as they were. Maybe the sitters have shared the old painter's humility in the face of fate. Whatever it was, was not known to the Trustees complained about the picture. So, most likely, they were pleased with the order, which made the older artist.

Group portraits of the Regents and Regents are the last paintings by Hals. At the time of their creation the artist was 81 or 82 years, and some critics say its loose style, most likely due to the loss of control over the brush. But in the nineteenth century "holesovsky manner" became popular with Impressionists, post-Impressionists and other masters, such as Gustave Courbet, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, John Singer Sargent, James Abbott McNeil Whistler,William Merritt Chase and Vincent Van Gogh. The latter even wrote to his brother Theo: "What a pleasure to consider the work of Frans Hals, how do they differ from other paintings — most of them — where everything is carefully smoothed and written in the same manner". Now both works are included in all monographs and studies of their author.

"Group portrait of the Regents" is still in that building, on which was written – in the former "Old house", which is now a Museum Hals. However, the complex was completely rebuilt, so the picture is not hanging in a certain place, and is moved depending on the needs of a particular exhibition.

And the Regents of the Regent and still play a prominent role in the public life of Harlem. In April 2010 they presented the gallery 11 pictures, which owned the hospital. The approximate cost of this gift amounted to 100 million euros, or about $ 135 million.

Author: Vlad Maslov