The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Frans Hals
The 'Laughing Cavalier' is loaned for the first time to the largest Frans Hals exhibition for 30 years
Issued October 2022
30 September 2023 – 21 January 2024
The National Gallery
One of the world’s best-known pictures Frans Hals’s 'The Laughing Cavalier' will be loaned for the first time in autumn 2023. The portrait will be a major draw in an exhibition at the National Gallery that will be the largest devoted to the artist’s work for more than thirty years.
Frans Hals’s painting, dating from 1624, will be on loan from the Wallace Collection, London, to The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Frans Hals at the National Gallery, the first monographic exhibition of the 17th-century Dutch portrait painter for a generation.
Following the Wallace Collection’s landmark decision in 2019 to lend works from its collection on a temporary basis for the first time in its 120-year history, the picture will come to Trafalgar Square from its home in Manchester Square, where it has been on display since the 1870s.
'The Laughing Cavalier' is one of the finest of the artist’s work which, in his own lifetime, was recognised for its exceptionally lively characterisation of people. He was one of very few artists throughout the history of Western painting who successfully managed to paint people smiling and laughing, a challenge shunned by most painters because it was so difficult.
The portrait will be accompanied in the exhibition, announced today Wednesday 12 October, and organised with the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, by some fifty of the artist’s greatest works from museums and private collections from around the world.
As well as key loans from Dutch collections, other highlights in the exhibition include 'Portrait of Isaac Massa', 1626 (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto); 'Portrait of Pieter Dircksz. Tjarck', about 1635–38, (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California); 'The Rommel-Pot Player', about 1618–22 (Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas); 'Portrait of Tieleman Roosterman', 1634 (The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio.)
The exhibition will follow a largely chronological display of portraits, with separate sections for genre paintings and small portraits, allowing space for Hals’s unsurpassed group portraits from the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, which have rarely left the city since they were painted some four centuries ago.
Since the rediscovery of his work in the 19th century, Hals’s paintings have been held in high regard and have been popular with the public, but it is more than thirty years since a large exhibition devoted to his work was held (in Washington, London, and Haarlem, in 1989–90).
Hals’s quick painting technique earned him his reputation as a virtuoso whose handling of the brush was equalled only by the likes of Rembrandt in the Netherlands or Velázquez in Spain. However, his work more or less faded into oblivion for much of the 18th and 19th centuries, his bravura as a painter waiting to be rediscovered in the second half of the 19th century by the art critic and journalist Théophile Thoré-Bürger, who rediscovered Vermeer; and by the Impressionists, who greatly admired Hals’s brushwork.
The exhibition is organised by the National Gallery and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam with the special collaboration of the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem. It will be shown at the Rijksmuseum from 16 February to 9 June 2024, following its display at the National Gallery. At the National Gallery 'The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Frans Hals' is curated by Bart Cornelis, the Gallery’s Curator of Dutch and Flemish Paintings. At the Rijksmuseum, the exhibition is curated by Friso Lammertse, Curator of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Paintings.
Bart Cornelis, Curator of 'The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Frans Hals', says: ‘It is very exciting to be able to include the Wallace Collection’s 'The Laughing Cavalier' as part of the first major monographic show devoted to Frans Hals for more than thirty years. No museum has, during that time, attempted to present a survey of his work, which means that no one under the age of 40 has been able to acquaint themselves, through a comprehensive overview, with the genius of one of the greatest portrait painters of all time.’
Xavier Bray, Director of the Wallace Collection, says: 'We are thrilled that our new loans policy has allowed us to participate in this historic exhibition. I'm looking forward to seeing 'The Laughing Cavalier' in esteemed company.’
Exhibition sponsored by
Notes to editors
Publicity images can be obtained from https://press.nationalgallery.org.uk/
'The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Frans Hals'
30 September 2023 – 21 January 2024
The National Gallery
Press View: Wednesday 27 September 2023
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