Frans Hals  

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Frans Hals (1582 – 1666) was a Dutch Golden Age painter known for paintings such as La Bohémienne

He lived and worked in Haarlem, a city in which the local authority of the day frowned on religious painting in places of worship but citizens liked to decorate their homes with works of art. Hals was highly sought after by wealthy burgher commissioners of individual, married-couple, family, and institutional-group portraits. He also painted tronies for the general market.

There were two quite distinct schools of portraiture in 17th-century Haarlem: the neat (represented, for example, by Verspronck); and a looser, more painterly style at which Frans Hals excelled. Some of Hals's portrait work is characterised by a subdued palette, reflecting the politely serious tones of his fashionable clients' wardrobe. In contrast, the personalities he paints are full of life, typically with a friendly glint in the eye or the glimmer of a smile on the lips.

Hals was born in the Spanish-occupied southern Netherlands (probably at Antwerp) but, because of the chaos wrought there by the Spanish at that time, his family moved to Haarlem when he was little. Many of his Haarlem clients were also émigrés from the South.

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