Hals, Francis

, a portrait painter of great celebrity, was born at Mechlin in 1584. He was a pupil of C. Van Mander, and by a careful observation of nature obtained that accurate knowledge of the structure of the human frame, which is so useful in his art. No man ever set the features of a face together with more truth than Frank Hals, or with a readier pencil; and he did it with great truth and spirit also of colour, as well as of execution. He avoided the laboured mode of finish so much admired among his countrymen at the time, and gave his portraits much expression and animation of countenance, particularly of a gay and humourous nature. A decided character of individual nature is remarkable in his portraits, and is not found in an equal degree in any other painter. If he had joined to this most difficult part of the art, a patience in finishing what he had so correctly planned, he might justly have claimed the place which Vandyke, all things considered, so justly holds as the first of portrait painters. This last mentioned artist was so delighted with his works, that he went to Haerlem, where he resided, for no other purpose than to pay him a visit. He introduced himself as a gentleman on his travels, who wished in haste to have his portrait painted. Hals was hurried from the tavern, where he usually passed his leisure time, seized the first canvas he could find, and began his labour. In a short time he had proceeded so far, that he asked Vandyke to look at what he had done, who expressed himself as very | well pleased with it, at the same time saying that he thought such work so easy, he was persuaded he could do it himself. Taking the palette and pencils, he desired F. Hals to sit down, and in a quarter of an hour shewed him the portrait. The moment he saw it he recognized his visitor, and embraced him with transport. Vandyke endeavoured to prevail upon Hals to accompany him to England, engaging to enrich him but he was not able to succeed Hals declaring that his happiness consisted in the enjoyment of his friends and his bottle, and while he possessed these he was satisfied with his condition. For his treatment of Brouwer, see our account of that artist. He died in 1666, at the age of eighty-two. He had a brother, Dirk Hals, a painter of animals, merry-makings, conversations, feasts, and subjects of drollery, to whom, however, as an artist, he was far superior in all the better qualities of art: yet Dirk’s works gained him much reputation, and he practised with great success till he was sixty-seven years old, when he died in 1656. 1


Pilkington. Sir J. Reynolds’s Works.