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Frans Hals Museum

Frans Hals Museum

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The Frans Hals Museum is a hofje
A hofje is a Dutch word for a courtyard with almshouses around it. They have existed since the Middle Ages.A hofje provided housing for elderly people . They were privately funded, and served as a form of social security...

 and municipal museum
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...

 in Haarlem
Haarlem is a municipality and a city in the Netherlands. It is the capital of the province of North Holland, the northern half of Holland, which at one time was the most powerful of the seven provinces of the Dutch Republic...

, Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

. The museum was founded in 1862 in the newly renovated former cloister located in the back of the Haarlem city hall known as the Prinsenhof. The collection is based on the wealthy collection of the city hall itself, including more than a dozen paintings by Frans Hals
Frans Hals
Frans Hals was a Dutch Golden Age painter. He is notable for his loose painterly brushwork, and helped introduce this lively style of painting into Dutch art. Hals was also instrumental in the evolution of 17th century group portraiture.-Biography:Hals was born in 1580 or 1581, in Antwerp...

, for whom it is named, but also contains other interesting Haarlem art from the 15th century up to the present day. The collection moved to the present location in 1913, and the modern collection is located in the two buildings on the town square called the Hallen
Museum De Hallen, Haarlem
Museum De Hallen is the name of the exhibition space on the Grote Markt, Haarlem, the Netherlands, where modern and contemporary art is on display in alternating presentations. The emphasis is on contemporary photograph and video presentations, with the focus on Man and society...

, for the former occupations of the buildings, the Fish Hall and the Meat Hall. The main collection, including the Frans Hals paintings, is currently located on the Klein Heiligland, across the street from the Haarlem historical museum.

History of the building Oudemannenhuis

The classical collection is housed in the old Oudemannenhuis (Old Men's Alms House), a home for elderly men founded in 1609. The residential rooms were situated around a courtyard in the style of contemporary Haarlem Hofjes
Hofjes in Haarlem
Haarlem is one of the cities in the Netherlands that has a number of hofjes. Some of them are even still in use with boards of regents. Many of these are members of the Stichting Haarlemse Hofjes . The word 'hofje' just means small garden, because the hofjes are generally small houses grouped...

. Each of the thirty tiny little houses was inhabited by two men; to be eligible for living there the men had to be at least 60 years old, honest Haarlem residents, and single. They were required to bring their own household goods listed as a bed, a chair with a cushion, a tin chamberpot, three blankets, six good shirts and six nightcaps. They were locked in each night at eight o'clock in the summer and at seven in the winter. The residents had to make a weekly collection with a poor-box, and a statue of a man holding this poor-box can be seen in the entrance hall of the museum. The old men's home was governed by 5 regents and the paintings of these regents by Frans Hals in 1664 are on display.

Though the men's home dates from 1609, this date must refer to the building date of the impressive regent's rooms. A room on the street has a curious keystone above the door with masonic symbols denoting a mason's society and the text 'Metsselaars Proef-Kamer 1648 12/29'. In the course of four centuries various modifications to the complex were made and it is not exactly clear from the museum information which parts were for which purpose.

In 1810 the complex became an orphanage, and in 1913 it became the new location for the classical collection of the Frans Hals museum, including the paintings by Frans Hals. The meager living conditions of the typical orphan in this building in the 19th century is well documented thanks to the autobiographical stories of the Haarlem writer Jacobus van Looy
Jacobus van Looy
Jacobus van Looy was a Dutch painter and writer.-Biography:Van Looy was the son of a carpenter, but his father lost his job when his eyesight began to fail. His mother died when he was five years old and when his father died soon afterwards, he ended up in the Haarlem municipal orphanage...


History of the Collection

The older pieces of the museum collection, consisting of primarily religious themes, are Haarlem relics from the Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, when all Roman Catholic art was formally seized by the city council in 1648. Frans Hals himself worked as the first official city-paid restorer for some of these pieces. The city council then proceeded in the 17th century to rewrite Haarlem history, and purchased various large pieces to decorate the city hall, telling stories such as the legend of Damiate, or the legend of the Haarlem Shield. During this time the city hall functioned as a semi-public museum, though the term didn't even exist yet. The first signs of an official museum with a curator occurred when the Dutch Society of Science, founded in 1752, started to rent the Prinsenhof room of the city hall in 1754 for its meetings and began to furnish it as an Cabinet of curiosities
Cabinet of curiosities
A cabinet of curiosities was an encyclopedic collection in Renaissance Europe of types of objects whose categorical boundaries were yet to be defined. They were also known by various names such as Cabinet of Wonder, and in German Kunstkammer or Wunderkammer...

. From an inventory list in the city archives it can be seen that they used as a model for their system of naming and presentation, the book Amboinsche Rariteitkamer by Georg Eberhard Rumphius
Georg Eberhard Rumphius
Georg Eberhard Rumphius or originally Rumpf was a German-born botanist employed by the Dutch East India Company in what is now eastern Indonesia, and is best known for his work, Herbarium Amboinense....

. They shared the room with the Synod
A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

 of the Dutch Reformed Church, that used it once every six years for its meetings. They hired a woman for the dusting and serving tea, and in 1768 they hired a man as curator, who was responsible for the entire collection and the medical Hortus garden in the yard.

The spacious room soon proved too small for the number of donated artifacts it received from its members, thanks to the increase in shipping and associated travel. In the late 18th century and early 19th century, Haarlem became a bedroom community of Amsterdam, with many wealthy bankers becoming members of the young Society. The old paintings became just a colorful backdrop for chests filled with stuffed animals and prepared specimens. In 1777 the Society moved its overflowing collection to a renovated house on the Grote Houtstraat, where the new young curator Martin van Marum
Martin van Marum
Martin van Marum was a Dutch scientist and teacher, who studied medicine and philosophy in Groningen...

 would live the rest of his life. It is interesting to note that this building, situated next to the Mennonite
The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after the Frisian Menno Simons , who, through his writings, articulated and thereby formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders...

 church, was mortgaged with the Mennonite banker Pieter Teyler van der Hulst
Pieter Teyler van der Hulst
Pieter Teyler van der Hulst was a wealthy Dutch Mennonite merchant, who died childless, leaving a legacy of two million florins to the pursuit of religion, arts and science in his hometown, that led to the formation of Teyler's Museum. This was not the value of his entire estate...

, who was not a member, but whose later testament would be the basis for the Teylers Museum
Teylers Museum
Teyler's Museum , located in Haarlem, is the oldest museum in the Netherlands. The museum is in the former home of Pieter Teyler van der Hulst . He was a wealthy cloth merchant and Amsterdam banker of Scottish descent, who bequeathed his fortune for the advancement of religion, art and science...

, where van Marum would also become curator.

This move essentially split the collection, and the natural history half is currently in the collection of the Teylers Museum
Teylers Museum
Teyler's Museum , located in Haarlem, is the oldest museum in the Netherlands. The museum is in the former home of Pieter Teyler van der Hulst . He was a wealthy cloth merchant and Amsterdam banker of Scottish descent, who bequeathed his fortune for the advancement of religion, art and science...

. Though the paintings and the garden remained back at city hall, 40 years after Carl Linnaeus had published his Systema Naturae
Systema Naturae
The book was one of the major works of the Swedish botanist, zoologist and physician Carolus Linnaeus. The first edition was published in 1735...

no one was interested in the garden (which was set up as a living version of that book), and still fewer people were interested in the religious art. The city hall was seen as a depot of large pieces of historical importance, and the next large group of paintings to join the collection occurred when Napoleon disbanded the guilds in the Netherlands in 1794. The guilds' property reverted to the state. This is how the larger pieces that Hals painted for the guilds came into the collection. Without an official curator, the painting collection was only available to be seen by appointment with the city clerk, a situation that has remained up to the present day for the large pieces still located there, such as the whalebone from Willem Barentsz trip to Nova Zembla
Nova Zembla
Nova Zembla may refer to:* Nova Zembla Island, Nunavut, Canada* Nova Zembla , a 2011 Dutch film* Nova Zembla , a Belgian electronic music label-See also:...

 or the portrait of Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer
Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer
Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer was a wood merchant of Haarlem, Netherlands She was the daughter of Simon Hasselaer and Grietje Koen. When the city was besieged by the Spanish, she led a company of women in defence of the city, becoming famous for bravery...


In the mid-19th century the back cloisters were given an extra floor for additional showing space, and it was at this time that the museum opened its doors to the public via a separate entrance than the main city hall entrance. There the museum remained until splitting the collection again into a modern and a classical one, situated in three separate buildings, not including the city hall itself, which still holds many original pieces.

Collection on Display

Among the more famous paintings on display is a modern exhibit with explanatory text showing the paintings in relation to historical events and the economic history of Haarlem. One of the best stories in this wing is the fable about the Haarlem 'crusade' to Damietta
Damietta , also known as Damiata, or Domyat, is a port and the capital of the Damietta Governorate in Egypt. It is located at the intersection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Nile, about north of Cairo.-History:...

. The bells in the Haarlem church on the main square are still called the 'Damiaatjes' for this reason.

Aside from paintings, the collection includes objects relating to Haarlem that have been acquired by donations. Among these are an old 'apotheek' or pharmacy which has been rebuilt in its entirety in one of the alms houses. Several stately rooms saved from torn-down Haarlem houses have been rebuilt and a collection of Haarlem silver saved from various local churches can also be seen. Spread along the corridors are beautiful Dutch tiles along the walls, accompanied by period furniture including clocks, chairs, and chests.

List of painters

Between 1605 and 1635 over 100,000 paintings were produced in Haarlem. Not all of these have survived, and most have left town, but this does say something about the artistic climate in the city. At that time art ownership in the city was 25%, a record high. More art has survived up to today from that period in Haarlem than from any other Dutch city, thanks mostly to the Schilder-boeck published by Karel van Mander there in 1604.

What follows is a list of the prominent painters through the centuries on display in the museum.
  • Jan van Scorel
    Jan van Scorel
    Jan van Scorel was an influential Dutch painter credited with the introduction of High Italian Renaissance art to the Netherlands.-Biography:He was born in Schoorl, north of Alkmaar and close to Egmond Abbey...

    , 1495–1562
  • Maarten van Heemskerck, 1498–1574
  • Karel van Mander, 1548–1606
  • Hendrick Goltzius, 1558–1617
  • Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem, 1562–1638
  • Floris Claesz van Dijck
    Floris Claesz van Dijck
    Floris van Dyck, also called Floris van Dijck or Floris Claesz. van Dyck , was a Dutch Golden Age still life painter.-Biography:...

    , 1575–1651
  • Cornelis Claesz van Wieringen
    Cornelis Claesz van Wieringen
    Cornelis Claesz van Wieringen was a Dutch Golden Age painter.-Biography:He was the son of a Haarlem captain, and drew, painted and etched with his friends Hendrick Goltzius and Cornelis van Haarlem. He also held important positions in the Haarlem Guild of St...

    , 1580–1633
  • Frans Hals
    Frans Hals
    Frans Hals was a Dutch Golden Age painter. He is notable for his loose painterly brushwork, and helped introduce this lively style of painting into Dutch art. Hals was also instrumental in the evolution of 17th century group portraiture.-Biography:Hals was born in 1580 or 1581, in Antwerp...

    , 1582–1666
  • Dirck Hals
    Dirck Hals
    Dirck Hals , born at Haarlem, was a Dutch painter of festivals and ballroom scenes. He was influenced by his elder brother Frans Hals.-Biography:...

    , 1591–1656
  • Willem Claeszoon Heda
    Willem Claeszoon Heda
    Willem Claeszoon Heda was one of the earliest Dutch Golden Age artists devoted exclusively to the painting of still lifes.-Biography:Heda was born in Haarlem,...

    , 1594–1680
  • Pieter Claesz
    Pieter Claesz
    Pieter Claesz was a Dutch Golden Age still life painter.-Biography:He was born in Berchem, Belgium, near Antwerp, where he became a member of the Guild of St. Luke in 1620. He moved to Haarlem in 1621, where his son, the landscape painter Nicolaes Pieterszoon Berchem was born...

    , 1597–1660
  • Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck
    Johannes Cornelisz Verspronck
    Johannes Cornelisz. Verspronck was a gifted Dutch Golden Age portraitist.-Biography:...

    , 1597–1662
  • Salomon de Bray
    Salomon de Bray
    Salomon de Bray was a Dutch Golden Age architect and painter.-Biography:De Bray was born inAmsterdam, but established himself in Haarlem before 1617, where he is registered as being a member of the schutterij that year in the St. Adrian's cloveniers...

    , 1597–1664
  • Pieter Saenredam, 1597–1665
  • Salomon van Ruysdael, 1600–1670
  • Adriaen Brouwer
    Adriaen Brouwer
    Adriaen Brouwer was a Flemish genre painter active in Flanders and the Dutch Republic in the seventeenth century.-Biography:...

    , 1605–1638
  • Judith Leyster
    Judith Leyster
    Judith Jans Leyster was a Dutch Golden Age painter. She was one of three significant women artists in Dutch Golden Age painting; the other two, Rachel Ruysch and Maria van Oosterwijk, were specialized painters of flower still-lifes, while Leyster painted genre works, a few portraits, and a...

    , 1609–1660
  • Jan Miense Molenaer
    Jan Miense Molenaer
    Jan Miense Molenaer , was a Dutch Golden Age genre painter whose style was a precursor to Jan Steen's work during Dutch Golden Age painting. He shared a studio with his wife, Judith Leyster, also a genre painter, as well as a portraitist and painter of still-life...

    , 1610–1668
  • Bartholomeus van der Helst
    Bartholomeus van der Helst
    Bartholomeus van der Helst was a Dutch portrait painter.-Biography:Born in Haarlem, the son of a Haarlem innkeeper, Van der Helst moved to Amsterdam some time before 1636, for he was married there in that year...

    , 1613–1670
  • Jan Steen
    Jan Steen
    Jan Havickszoon Steen was a Dutch genre painter of the 17th century . Psychological insight, sense of humour and abundance of colour are marks of his trade.-Life:...

    , 1625–1679
  • Jan de Bray
    Jan de Bray
    Jan de Bray , was a Dutch Golden Age painter.-Biography:Jan de Bray was born in Haarlem. According to Houbraken he was the most famous pupil of his father, the architect and poet Salomon de Bray. Houbraken called Jan the "pearl in Haarlem's crown"...

    , 1627–1697
  • Jacob van Ruisdael, 1628–1682
  • Gerrit Adriaenszoon Berckheyde
    Gerrit Adriaenszoon Berckheyde
    Gerrit Adriaenszoon Berckheyde was a Dutch Golden Age painter, active in Haarlem, Amsterdam, and The Hague, who is best known today for his cityscapes.-Biography:...

    , 1638–1698

External links