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Group portrait of Regents shelter for the elderly in Harlem

Frans Hals • Painting, 1664, 170.5×249.5 cm
About the artwork
Art form: Painting
Subject and objects: Portrait
Technique: Oil
Materials: Canvas
Date of creation: 1664
Size: 170.5×249.5 cm
Artwork in selections: 13 selections
Exhibitions history

Description of the artwork «Group portrait of Regents shelter for the elderly in Harlem»

As one of the foremost artists of his era, Frans Hals received many orders for portraits – especially members of the elite native of Haarlem who wanted to perpetuate their status. His clients were as individuals and public institutions (guilds, civil guard, charities). One of the most famous images in the common heritage of the painter became "Group portrait of Regents shelter for the elderly in Harlem". This almshouse was established in 1609, and the canvas is written about 55 years later – with "Group portrait of the Regents". Now both works are included in all monographs and studies devoted to Hals.

The painting depicts four young Minister at the nursing home, sitting around the table. The researchers found their names: Adriane Shoten, Mariti Willems, Anna van Damme and adriana Bredenhoff – but was unable to determine what belongs to whom. Behind them is the warden of the shelter, who together with her colleague-the man led the daily Affairs of the institution. It is impossible to determine exactly what the landscape hangs in the background, but most likely it is an allegory of the Good Samaritan symbolizing the mercy of Regents.

First it was thought that Frans Hals, impoverished to the end of his life, lived in charity house, and this portrait wanted to take revenge on the Ministers for excessive harshness. So it explains why they are shown in such an unflattering way. However, it later emerged that the artist was never an inhabitant of the almshouses.

Woman in the portrait looks calm and strict. It can be assumed that their tired of the responsibility for the elderly poor or are they just serious about their cause. Despite this, the figures transmitted to dignity, and positions – personality. The picture is dominated by black and grey shades, against which stand out bright white collars. Ladies depicted in the traditional Calvinist dresses embody not only their occupation, but also a dominant religion of the Dutch Republic.

Artistic approach Hals distinguished him from his contemporaries. His manner and liveliness of letters did each sitter is unique. Although "Portrait of Regents" static compared to the earlier group images (1, 2, 3, 4), it has the feeling of the captured moment, unfinished movement. Women sit so that the viewer can fully consider each, and housekeeper, seem to have just entered stage right.

The sense of movement of the stage gives a textural brushwork, combined with the recurring triangular shapes of female figures and collars. The illusion of reality is particularly evident in the cuffs a Central figure, written by a number of fast lines around the wrists of women. When viewed from a distance, the strokes merged, creating the appearance of folds of stiff fabric.

Especially it is interesting to contrast this work by Hals paintings of his contemporaries. For example,Jan Cornelis Verspronck also wrote General portraits of Regents (1, 2), and these works smoother and more finished appearance than Hals. But, most likely, the artist simply tried to flatter his customers and depicted them as what they liked themselves.

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, and some of them even made copies of the "ladies" paintings. So,William Merritt Chase has created a full version of workMax Liebermann andJohn Singer Sargent wrote the fragments, andJames Whistler came to Harlem three times and, according to one of his friends, "was completely fascinated by the ladies".

By the way, "Group portrait of Regents" is still in that building, on which was written – in the former home for the elderly, which has now become a Museum Hals. 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