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A Palette of Perspectives with Ms. Jane – The 'Goofy Side' of Frans Hals"

Frans Hals is a Dutch artist of the 16th and 17th centuries, widely known for his goofy paintings of promiscuous court jesters and tipsy youths. In this article, I will offer the opinion of one of our beloved teachers on three of his paintings; Miss Jane. 

Let’s see what she has to say about ‘The Smoker’(1626). 

Q: What do you think about ‘The Smoker?’

Ms Jane’s response: 

“I think it’s very Frans Hals because of the loose brushstrokes and I think that really fits with his character and his personality, his messy hair and his cheeky smile and his sort of whole demeanour; his clothing, the background and everything. It makes him very lively and very kind of like a snapshot, caught in the moment. I love how the light highlights in his hair really kind of pick out that movement as they do on his clothing as well but then also the darker shadows behind him and the character behind him add a little bit of mystery and add to the story as well.”

Q: The character behind him, what would you say she is; a sister, a lover? 

Ms Jane’s response: 

“Oh, I think she might be a naughty lady, she might be a lady of the night or something, I don’t know. She is very familiar for someone set in the 17th century, with her arms around him while he’s smoking, so I suspect that she is an entertainer of some sort since she’s that familiar with him.” 

Onto the second painting, ‘Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer’(1626)

Q: What do you think about these two boys and their jug of beer?

Ms Jane’s response:

“I think that they look like they’ve already drunk the beer and then one of them is looking in the jug to see if there’s any left! The one behind, his eyes are a little wonky and he is very loosely painted, it is very joyful, but I do think that they have partaken in the beer already.”

Here comes the last painting, ‘Yonker Ramp and His Sweetheart’(1623)

Q: What do you think of Yonker Ramp and his sweetheart? 

Ms Jane’s response: 

“I think they’re very happy. I think they are having a very happy time and the position does make them look like they’re taking a 17th century selfie; it looks really funny. It’s like ‘look up here, look together’, but I think they’re just having a lovely time. They’re very flushed so I think they’ve been, you know, very jolly and maybe they’ve been dancing and partying a little bit. Not sure about the dog(right hand side, bottom corner). It does look a bit demonic with those red eyes so maybe the dog’s been partying too!”

I am tremendously grateful for having the amazing opportunity to interview Ms. Jane and thank you for reading this interview! 

For more information on Frans Hals(well, his male portraits, but we all know ‘The Smoker’ is the best one);  Frans Hals; The Male Portrait

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