By Darla McCammon
From the wealthy and successful life of Michelangelo, we find ourselves investigating an artist with exceptional ability who lived the more familiar theme of starving artist.
Frans Hals, born in Antwerp, Holland, in 1582, lived most of his life in poverty. His family moved to Haarlem after the Spanish invaded Antwerp.
His training in art continued, and he married his first wife who then bore him two children but died young. A pauper’s grave indicates the financial condition of Hals at the time.
Hals was late to mature as an artist but struggled to make it prosper, and in 1616 finally acquired his first, and major commission, a large group portrait of the St. George Militia.
That project established him as an excellent portraitist, but still he languished in providing for his second wife and their eight children. He also still bore responsibility for the care of his first two children.
By the 1630s, Hals’ reputation as an artist was well-established. He was commissioned for many new portraits and did work for the highest members of Haarlem society.
He was in constant demand but still did not succeed in improving the standard of living for his family. He even became very successful in running a studio where he trained young artists and taught them many of the techniques that were making his paintings and portraits so popular.
Perhaps an explanation of Hals’ difficulties in maintaining a profitable art business can be explained in the quarrelsome and challenging temperament known to exist in the entire Hals family. One of his students, Judith Leyster, a very good artist herself, argued, then sued him because Hals had accepted an apprentice who had left her studio.
Hals’ portraits were in demand, and he continued to have many commissions. One of his famous works is the portrait he did of Isabella Coymans in 1650-1652 (shown above). It is an extraordinary painting full of life and vibrancy. It was done at the same time as a portrait of her husband, which is equally astounding.
They were meant to hang next to each other as their eyes interlocked. Unfortunately, the two paintings are separated today. The one of Isabella hangs in a private collection, and the husband is on display in the Musée Royal des Beaux-Arts, Antwerp.
Coming up: RedBird Art Studio at Warsaw City Hall until July 5. Please visit this exhibit and encourage these budding artists with a purchase. The Ford Meter Box Calendar Competition is ended. Winners will be announced next month. Would you like to exhibit your artwork at the Warsaw City Hall Art Gallery? Please contact [email protected] with the subject: Warsaw Gallery.