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Frans Hals and Haarlem’s masters of the Golden Age

  • 13

    February 2009
  • 07

    June 2009
Kunsthalle der Hypo – Kulturstiftung, Munich  

The Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung presents its first ever exhibition of masterpieces from the Dutch Golden Age, in collaboration with the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem.


Haarlem artists played a decisive role in the new development of 17th-century Dutch painting. 

More than 120 works by artists like Frans Hals, Hendrick Goltzius, Jacob van Ruysdael, Pieter Saenredam, Jan Steen and many others clarify how a free art market emerged and how artists began to specialize in specific subjects. Portraits, landscapes, cityscapes, marines, still-lifes and genre painting are all present in this show.


Apart from an extraordinarily generous selection of loans from the Frans Hals Museum - including the two world renowned group portraits of the male and female regents of the old men's almshouse, which have never before been exhibited in Germany - masterpieces of the Haarlem school from many other public and private collections in Europe and the United states are presented in Munich.


The Period

From 1610 to 1630, the arts in Haarlem experienced a profound transformation. Artists adapted to the new situation following the Reformation, where the Catholic Church ceased to be a major patron. Instead the city governments assumed this role in part, complemented by the newly rich citizens and businessmen. 

New subjects grew more popular: the city, its surrounding varied countryside, food and utensils now were worthy subjects of representation. The citizens themselves, from every social class, were recorded in portraits and scenes from daily life.


After 1610, Haarlem painters began to specialize in specific genres, achieving international recognition. This development went hand in hand with new customers and a free art market.


The Genres and the Masters of the Golden Age

Portraiture was revolutionized by Frans Hals (ca. 1581-1666). While born in Antwerp, he grew up in Haarlem, and his artistic genius set the tone for the entire genre by perfectly expressing movement and the individuality of the sitters. Johannes Verspronck (1606/11-1662) and Jan de Bray (ca. 1627-1697) set this tradition forth.


The new development of genre painting (depicting scenes from daily life) also received incentives from Calvinist sermons and its underlying biblical iconography. Printed images played an important role in the dissemination of new themes, aided by the fact that Haarlem could lean on a long tradition of printing and publishing.


Landscape painting began evolving, when around 1610 Esaias (1590/91-1630) and Jan van de Velde (1568-1623) as well as Willem Buytewech (1591/92-1624) settled in Haarlem. In the tradition of Pieter Breughel, they studied the surroundings of the city and captured their impressions in drawings. They also produced prints that glorified the picturesque Haarlem countryside. The realist landscape painters Jan van Goyen (1596-1656), Salomon van Ruysdael (1600/03-1670) and Pieter Molijn (1595-1661) gave the Dutch landscape a more naturalistic appearance.


Garden parties and merry companies were the specialty of Esaias van de Velde, Willem Buytewech and Dirck Hals (1591-1656). This new type of genre painting was embraced by Jan Miense Molenaer (ca. 1610-1668), Judith Leyster (1609-1660) and Hendrick Pot (ca. 1585-1657). 

Adriaen Brouwer (1605/06-1638) was active in Haarlem between 1627 and 1628, and during this brief period introduced the peasant genre, depicting fighting, drinking and card playing peasants. 

Adriaen van Ostade (1610-1685) and his brother Isack (1621-1649) took up this theme, which became extraordinarily popular. 

Jan Steen (1626-1679) belongs to the next generation of genre painters and created his best work in Haarlem, between 1660 and 1670. 

Around 1610, Floris van Dijck painted his first breakfast still-life, incorporating the diverse influences from Milan, Frankfurt and Antwerp. 

Pieter Claesz (ca. 1597-1660) moved around 1620 from Antwerp to Haarlem, and there developed his typical realist still-life painting. Willem Heda (1594-1680) painted in a similar mode during that time, and together they set the tone for all of Dutch still-life painting.


The history painters Pieter de Grebber (ca. 1600-1652/53), Salomon (1597-1664) and Jan de Bray (ca. 1627-1697), although not very innovative, they profoundly influenced Dutch classicism.


The first specialists in architectural painting were father and son Hendrick van Steenwijck in Antwerp. Pieter Saenredam (1597-1665) worked with the aid of mathematical perspective studies, and became famous for his church interiors. Gerrit Berckheyde (1638-1698) depicted the Haarlem town hall, the St. Bavo cathedral, the city gates, as well as the market square and streets.


Haarlem marine painting can be traced back to Hendrick Vroom (ca. 1566-1640) and his younger contemporaries Cornelis Claesz van Wieringen (ca. 1580-1633) and Cornelis Verbeeck (1590-1637). Their work is the point of departure for the entire genre of the Dutch seascape.


(picture: Frans Hals, Regenten des Altmännerhospizes, 1664)



For further information please visit the Hypo - Kunsthalle website: