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Frans Hals (Antwerpen, 1582/83 – Haarlem, 1666)

Regentesses of the Old Men's Alms House

c. 1664

Four women dressed elegantly in black regard us from the canvas. They are the ‘regentesses’ – the administrators – of the home for old men in Haarlem. Unlike the civic guard paintings in this room, we do not know who is portrayed in this painting.

Behind them stands the ‘house mother’, who was responsible for the day-to-day running of the home, together with the ‘house father’. Hals was an old man himself – around 80 years of age – when he portrayed the regentesses. He painted the women in a very loose style, using coarse, wide brushstrokes. The face of the regentess on the far right is made up of all kinds of different colours.

19th-century artists such as Claude Monet and James Whistler were inspired by Frans Hals’ style of painting. Vincent van Gogh particularly admired Hals' many different shades of black. Since 1913 the Frans Hals Museum has been housed in the former home for old men, so this group portrait is still on display in the building for which it was intended.

  • Creator

    Frans Hals (Antwerpen, 1582/83 – Haarlem, 1666)

  • Title

    Regentesses of the Old Men's Alms House

  • Date

    c. 1664

  • Collection

    Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem

  • Material

    Oil paint on canvas | H170,5 x W249,5 cm


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