Dutch Painter Frans Hals and The Jolly Toper

Dutch Painter Frans Hals and The Jolly Toper

Frans Hals was among the great masters of Dutch painting. His work, The Jolly Toper,, is a striking example of the artist’s ability to paint a “speaking likeness” and of his humour in the expression of his subjects.

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Frans Hals

Dutch, 1580 – 1666

Frans Hals, among the great masters of Dutch painting, had no competition as a portrait painter in his day excluding the young Rembrandt. He was born at Antwerp of parents who had escaped from Haarlem and the Spanish terror. He returned to Haarlem during his childhood and there became a student of Karel van Mander (d. 1600) who didn’t influence him much. In 1644 he became head of the guild at Haarlem. His improvidence is a legend. He was held in admiration throughout his life and received important public commissions, particularly for large portrait groups of shooting companies, almshouse regents, and the like. Perhaps because of adverse conditions in Holland he turned quite poor in his last years, and the town of Haarlem awarded him a considerable pension. He was buried in St. Bavo, the town’s primary church.

The Jolly Toper

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Canvas, 31 7/8″ x 26 1/8″.

Signed at the right: FH (in monogram)

The Jolly Toper, which was painted around 1627, is a striking example of the artist’s ability to paint a ’speaking likeness’ and of his humour in the expression of his subjects. The painting of the glass in the left hand is an illustration of the bravura of his technique. The person is not identified though his belt buckle has the image of Prince Maurice of Orange. The picture entered the Rijksmuseum in 1816. It was included in the exhibition, Dutch Painting: The Golden Age, shown at the Art Gallery of Toronto and elsewhere in North America in 1945.

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