THE newly acquired Family Group by Frans Hals is, except for its vitality, not particularly fine. The confused moving group, like so many of Hals's, is intensely bourgeois. There is a delightful note in the little maid's sparkling face in the foreground, which saves the picture, painted as it is with much Batavian courage.
The very dark ground on which it is done, and done thinly, has sobered the tones and induced a blue coldness in the whites. Liveliness there always is in Hals's treatment, with his frank telling lights, separate and undisturbed by any softening process, leaving a masterly and big impression that subtler modelling might well belittle. Remarkable qualities, such as his, bear with them their defects. We may not look for Venetian or Spanish dignity allied to his vivacity—the one is the negation of the other—so we must be thankful for the temperament that could make painted people well-nigh move and talk, and spread around some of the gaiety they had imbibed.
THE PAINTER AND HIS WIFE
Frans Hals at his best.
That he was at times even grave, we may judge from his picture at Haarlem, where most of his important works are collected, in a large pathetic group of old women.
There, also is the great canvas of the " Guild of Archers," so brilliant and full of colour and so spirited, that it is one of the great portrait groups of the world. But perhaps the most thoroughly enjoyable of his pictures is a portrait of himself and his wife, which for expression and frankness is in its way unequalled.
The head of an " Old Woman" here is free, but dulled by its heavy ground.
"The Smiling Man," on a lighter background, is fuller, but not well modelled for a Hals ; and you will note that the ground without any covering supplies the middle tones of the hair.
There is a small canvas in this gallery by de Keyser, high-toned in the flesh and pure in lighting throughout. Rembrandt owed much to de Keyser, who deserves to be better appreciated.