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Dirck Hals, 'A Party at Table', 1626

Key facts
Full title A Party at Table
Artist Dirck Hals
Artist dates 1591 - 1656
Date made 1626
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 28 × 38.8 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1879
Inventory number NG1074
Location Room 23
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Party at Table
Dirck Hals

A group of cheerful young people crowd around a small table in an elegant room. The fashionable clothing they wear, some of which is very colourful, differs from the sombre black costumes we can see in many Dutch portraits of the time.

Dirck Hals specialised in scenes of people feasting and enjoying themselves. Known as ‘merry companies’, these images derive from representations of biblical subjects and were often engraved with moralising verses condemning foolish and extravagant behaviour. Here, the group’s ostentatious attire, the large plate of oysters and the golden drinking cup might be signs of potentially excessive and dissolute conduct.

Dirck was the younger brother of the painter Frans Hals, who influenced him with his painterly and colourful technique. In fact, Dirck adapted the quick and lively brushwork championed by his brother to the small-scale genre pictures he exclusively painted.

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