July 26, 2011 / 3:33 PM / in 6 years

NY museum displays works by Dutch master Frans Hals

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Paintings by celebrated Dutch Golden Age painter Frans Hals, ranging from portraits done in the 1600s to genre scenes, are the focus of a new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Hals, Rembrandt and Johannes Vermeer are the most famous of the Old Master painters. Hals is considered second only to Rembrandt in the Netherlands and as equal of Vermeer.

The new exhibit, which will be on display from July 26 until October 10, includes 13 paintings by Hals as well as several other Dutch artists who worked in the 16th and 17th century. Paintings thought to have been done by his sons, five of whom were also painters, will also be on display.

“Hals’s bourgeois subjects, often colorful palette, and above all bold brushwork became more inspiring to Realist and Impressionist painters than Rembrandt’s venerable model,” the museum said in a statement.

It added he was the most celebrated of the three best-known Dutch artists in some European art circles, especially in Paris, and because of his influence on later artists.

Walter Liedtke, the curator of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said the only collection of his works better than the N.Y. exhibit is at the Frank Hals museum in Haarlem, in the Netherlands.

Among the paintings on display in New York is “Yonker Ramp and His Sweetheart,” which depicts a young man holding up an empty glass during a night out in a tavern with an intoxicated-looking young woman.

“It’s about the vivacity of youth,” Liedtke said. “But it also symbolizes that the glass of your own life is out and you’re behaving frivolously.”

Another well-known Hals painting on display is “Merrymakers at Shrovetide.” It shows the drunken debauchery of a pre-Lenten feast.

“It’s all very vulgar, but most of the original owners wouldn’t have had any idea,” Liedtke said.

Although Hals’s work fell out of favor in the 18th century, it was later widely praised by artists such as Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet.

The museum explained that its formative years in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s coincided with the rise of Hals’s reputation as an artist, which led to the museum’s large collection of his works.

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