During our last trip to Belgium, we visited the exhibition DUTCH SPRING: Frans Hals Portraits A Family Reunion at Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium.
Until May 19, it will be possible to enjoy this small exhibition that focuses on on the innovative approach to the “family portraits” of the Flemish painter.
Beyond the excellent quality of the paintings, including a beautiful portrait by Rembrandt, what intrigued us the most, was the philological reconstruction of a painting, probably dismembered between the end of the 18th and the beginning from the nineteenth century, for unknown reasons , and now in different collections.
The idea of the exhibition was born as a consequence of the purchase by the Toledo Museum of Art (Ohio, USA), in 2011 of a painting by Frans Hals “Van Campen Family Portrait in a Landscape”, and of the recent restoration of the painting, attributed to the same artist and kept at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium, “Tree Children of the Van”.
It was in fact made evident that these works were originally part of a single painting, to which a third, now in a private collection (not shown), also belongs.
Thanks to the restoration, but above all to the diagnostic campaign carried out during the restoration, it was possible to understand how the Belgian painting hid some figures, probably covered at the time when the painting was dismembered. And this prompted further research.
Using images and diagnostics performed during the restoration, this research was also aimed at highlighting the artist’s characteristics of innovation in his contemporary landscape.
The news is that this research has not been left visible only to specialists. The multimedia installation accompanying the exhibition is excellent and fully demonstrates the educational potential of diagnostics. Thanks to an brilliant realization, very intuitive and rich in information and details, it becomes clear what the vicissitudes of a large format painting could be, its possible transformation over the centuries, because taste or exhibition necessity. It also allows a clear reading of the “balances” within a representation that is intended at describing also the hidden dialogues between the protagonists.
Nothing has been left to chance, even the graphics are elegant and appealing, and the results are visible.
During the period in which we stayed in the room where the installation was, many people stopped to look at the whole 7 min video. An investment worth doing.