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Frans Hals at the National Gallery REVIEW

Updated: Sep 29, 2023

The Holland of the late 17th century looks like a fun place to have lived. Well at least from Frans Hals' depiction of it. Ruddy faces, flushed by flagons of fine beer, lutes, love and marvellous moustaches. The colour and the brushwork of the compositions are extraordinarily modern and the facial expressions - a mouth open in a guffaw, a private nod between a husband and wife in a family portrait, a baby's smile as she pushes her nurse away -- are masterclasses in technique.

This is not a show that will immediately grab a family audience. But the National Gallery is one of the few galleries in the UK where U18s are free. Portraits are fun to copy. Take paper and crayons and little ones can have fun finding the most outrageous moustache and creating their own versions. Older budding artists can marvel at how he created such vibrancy and life on canvas. 400 years ago!

If you go before 8 Oct, combine with a visit to Take One Picture. You have until 29 Oct to pop across the staircase and see the wonderful Paula Rego mural Crivelli's Garden and the altarpiece that inspired it. Both are free.

Emily Turner, 28 September


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