No drawings by Hals are known and his paintings are characterized by spirited, freely applied wet-in-wet brushstrokes and impastoed textures — an innovation that heralds the abstract qualities of Diego Velázquez and Édouard Manet. Chiefly active in Haarlem, Hals built on the efforts of Goltzius (1558–1617), Cornelis van Haarlem (1562–1638) and Karel van Mander (1548–1606) in forming a self-conscious identity propelled by the Dutch independence and bourgeoning capitalist art market. His subjects ranged from individuals of the debonair elite class down to gypsies and fishermen, often set against a monochrome background, to depictions of families and groups of civic militia, which form the apotheosis of the collective portrait that emerged as a distinctive genre of the nascent Republic. Hals’ oeuvre constitutes the best social documentation of the outward fashion and the inner conflict increasingly brought by the ‘embarrassment of the riches’ witnessed during his lifetime — a contribution no less recognized today than the dedication of the Haarlem municipal museum to the artist.
Books on Frans Hals
Simon Schama, The Embarrassment of the Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age, New York, 1987.
Seymour Slive, Frans Hals, 2nd revised ed., London, 2014.
Anna Tummers, Frans Hals: Eye to Eye with Rembrandt, Rubens and Titian, Rotterdam, 2013.
Christopher D.M. Atkins, The Signature Style of Frans Hals: Painting, Subjectivity, and the Market in Early Modernity, Amsterdam, 2012.
Walter Liedtke, Frans Hals, Style and Substance, New Haven, 2011.
Frans Hals: Exhibition on the Occasion of the Centenary of the Municipal Museum at Haarlem, 1862-1962, exh. cat., Haarlem, 1962.
Cornelis de Bie, Het Gulden Cabinet vande Edel Vry Schilder-Const, 1662, reprint, Antwerp, 1971.