Frans Hals - A Tronie of a Young Man in the Costume of an Actor
A Tronie of a Young Man in the Costume of an Actor
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Frans Hals (Antwerp 1580 - Haarlem 1666)

Today Hals is perhaps considered second to only Rembrandt in the ranks of seventeenth-century Dutch painters. He was born in Antwerp but moved at an early age to Haarlem, where he spent the whole of his life, and his art is indelibly linked to the city. His earliest work is from 1611, and he soon built an excellent career as a portraitist, which he maintained throughout his life. Specific biographical details are relatively scarce although a convincing stylistic chronology has been built up by scholars. His genre scenes mostly date from the 1620s, although there is the occasional example, including the present work from the next decade, when he was at his artistic peak. After 1640 artistic tastes changed and his commissions started to dry up.

He is best known for his remarkable flowing brushwork, and this expressive technique brought his subjects to life in a way previously unknown in the Netherlands. His work has an immediacy which is engrossing to the viewer and his use of loose brushstrokes to render light on form is remarkable. The present work is an excellent demonstration of these qualities and exemplifies why he has been considered since ‘soon after the middle of the nineteenth century as one of the greatest painters in the history of Western art’.