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Toledo Museum of Art organizes first major international exhibition of family portraits by Dutch Golden Age master Frans Hals

Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo Art Museum, Toledo Museum, exhibition, Frans Hals

Exhibition premieres in Toledo Oct. 13, 2018-Jan. 6, 2019 before international tour

One of the greatest portraitists in the history of Western European painting, Frans Hals (1582/83-1666) is renowned for his revolutionary candid style of capturing sitters in seemingly spontaneous poses and lively gestures. For the first time, Hals’s family group portraits from collections in the United States and Europe, including the reunion of one canvas cut into sections more than two centuries ago, will be brought together in the international exhibition Frans Hals Portraits: A Family Reunion, on view at the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA), the exclusive U.S. venue, from Oct. 13, 2018, through Jan. 6, 2019.

Lawrence W. Nichols, William Hutton senior curator, European and American painting and sculpture before 1900 at the Toledo Museum of Art co-curated the exhibition with Liesbeth De Belie, curator 17th-century Dutch paintings at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels. The exhibition will travel to Brussels and to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid after its premiere in Toledo. The focus installation will feature spectacular loans from numerous European and North American museums and private collections, including the touring venues and The National Gallery in London, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati.

“This exciting international undertaking provides visitors with the unprecedented opportunity to witness Frans Hals’s family portraits together in one place, while also experiencing, uniquely, a rejoined group portrait,” said Brian Kennedy, TMA’s Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey director. “The reunion of these 17th-century masterworks also serves as the perfect platform to explore more broadly and deeply how family is defined and what the concept of family means to us in the 21st century.”

Frans Hals Portraits: A Family Reunion was prompted by the Toledo Museum of Art’s acquisition in 2011 of Hals’s Van Campen Family Portrait in a Landscape, as well as the subsequent conservation of Children of the Van Campen Family with a Goat-Cart from the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Recent scholarship has verified that the canvases now in Toledo and Brussels, as well as a third in a private collection, once formed a single composition painted in the early 1620s. The exhibition unites this representation of the Van Campen family, as well as four other significant family portraits by the artist, including the only double portrait of a married couple by Hals.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue, with scholarly contributions from curators Nichols and De Belie, as well as Pieter Biesboer, director emeritus of the Frans Hals Museum, whose research identified the family in the fragmented canvas as that of Haarlem textile merchant Gijsbert Claes van Campen.

Hals’s fresh, charismatic images give the impression of real people with real relationships. The TMA installation of the exhibition will also incorporate the voices of Toledo community members. Taking the separation and reunification of the Hals Van Campen family portrait as a catalyst, a host of affiliated programs – including storytelling, art making and workshops – will address issues surrounding the shifting definition and evolving nature of families today.

Frans Hals Portraits: A Family Reunion is sponsored by Taylor Cadillac and the Ohio Arts Council with additional support from 2018 Exhibition Program Sponsor ProMedica. Admission to the exhibition is free for Museum members and $10 for nonmembers, with tickets available for seniors, college students and military personnel ($7) and youth ages 5-17 ($5).