Frans Hals Paints The Gypsy Girl

What a joy it is to see a Frans Hals, how different it is from the paintings – so many of them – where everything is carefully smoothed out in the same manner.”

— Vincent Van Gogh

Paintings like The Jolly Toper (also known as The Merry Drinker), The Laughing Cavalier, The Jester, and The Bohemian Girl (also known as The Gypsy Girl) suggest a carefree attitude and humanity immediately likeable, as well as perhaps a clue to a cause of his money troubles. This earthy, human quality seems to have been successfully transferred to his most well known student, Judith Leyster, many of whose works are stylistically nearly indistinguishable from those of her Master.

With this portrait of a jovial gipsy wench, Hals continues in the Caravaggesque tradition of popular subjects which was imported from Rome by Terbrugghen and Honthorst. However, it is the exuberance of the light and colourful brushstrokes of his technique which conveys the sensation of spontaneity and life in this painting. The actual handling of the paint has now become a means of expression in itself.