Monday, February 21, 2011

!00 artists a painter should know, vulgar Dutchmen edition

41) The Jolly Toper (or drinker) by Frans Hals 1584? 1666
Franz Hals was a portrait painter and lived in the Dutch city of Harlem. He was not terribly successful and worked restoring pictures as well as making them. He did a number of large group portraits and many commissions but may not have been highly paid for them as he was sued and had his property seized by a baker to whom he owed money.Forgotten after his death in poverty his popularity surged in the nineteenth century. Hals is valued for his flashy and expressive brushwork. Like Velazquez, Hals was an inspiration to many painters in the 19th century because of that free brushwork and the immediacy and natural look of his paintings.

42) Isabella Coymans (Franz Hals)
Franz gets two into the hall of fame. The brushwork that makes this ladies costume is as daring and fresh as anything ever painted. Sargent certainly studied this. Hals has also expressed the personality of his sitter well. She seems like a real person we might know and I can imagine something of her good nature. Hals like Velazquez used a lot of black, that always sets off colors well.

43) Leaving the Tavern by Jan Steen 1626-1679
Steen was from a relatively well off family whose family owned a tavern. he studied with Jan Van Goyen and married his daughter. I wanted to include one of these sorts of pictures. Many Dutch painters of this era painted bawdy drinking scenes. There are a few that even have knife fights and many with crude sexual advances made on indifferent drunken harlots. Sometimes the paintings were presented as cautionary moral tales, but I think that was usually a cover story. The Dutch were a wealthy society, rich from trade and appreciated a painting of the party life. Many Dutch painters owned taverns and Jan Steen did. I expect it provided cash flow when the art market was thin. Steen was however a successful and well known artist in his time.
These pictures were different from those that preceded them in that they were made for a merchant class rather than princes and popes, and they wanted pictures of their world, not biblical or mythological scenes.
Some images from

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T Arthur Smith said...

One thing I'd add about Frans Hals is that he not only portrayed a sitter's expression, but captured momentary, fleeting expressions, similar to taking a photograph (not that his painting is equal to taking photographs). Many portraits before Hals have the labored look of a sitter waiting in a studio, with little emotion. With Hal's paintings, you feel you're seeing the sitter in their natural environment, acting out an instant of time, and you're sharing it with them. Few artists before the 1500's did this - Donatello and Da Vinci's Mona Lisa come to mind.

Bob Mrotek said...

In the bar of old Northwestern Station in Chicago there was a mural of a scene similar to the tavern scene of Jan Steen. Underneath there was a caption "Come weary traveler, take your ease, here is solace, let worries cease". I would like to know more about that painting and if it could have been a facsimile of one of Steen's.

Mary Bullock said...

What is that face thing on the painting beside Isabella? Is it actually part of the painting? Perhaps something on the wall behind her?

Philip Koch said...

I think that Hals painting of Isabella Coymans is really remarkable. At the same time it expresses a fleeting moment of moving form and a monumental volumetric feeling. How did he do that so well?

And I wondered along with Mary Bullock about that face-like shape hovering in the background. I assume it was some architectural ornament Hals picked up on just to fill the void at the left side. But there's an unmistakable floating "spirit" quality to it. I wonder was this something Hals was conscious of as he painted it? The funny thing is I bet if Hals were alive and with us today he'd probably refuse to give us a straight answer if we asked him.

clarkola said...

While we're all wondering....I wonder where the little search window went-it's gone.I miss it. Is this a universal problem or just my very own personal one? (ha-be nice now)

Stapleton Kearns said...

Yes thats a good observation they do have a candid look.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I don't know I never drank much in Chicago.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think it may be a family emblem or some kind of heraldic device. Other Hals paintings have different but similar things in roughly the same position.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think it was a family symbol so Hals probably was not doing a spiritual reverie on it.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I still have the window on my page, maybe you are not holding your mouth right?