From the museum website, 13 July 2011
Celebrating the Golden Age
This winter it is party time in the Frans Hals Museum. Celebrating in the Golden Age showcases a highly popular subject in seventeenth-century art. Painters like Jan Steen and Frans Hals portrayed countless merry-making folk and lively companies, from peasant fairs and carnival celebrations to lavish al fresco parties, processions and civic guard banquets. The exhibition in the Frans Hals Museum will circa 45 paintings, including masterpieces from its own collection and loans from such leading institutions as the Metropolitan Museum (New York) and the Gemäldegalerie (Berlin). Celebrating in the Golden Age runs till 6 May 2012.
The exhibition presents the first ever overview of painted partying in the Golden Age. Alongside many enchanting paintings by important seventeenth-century artists, visitors will see a wide range of narrative scenes conveying what is often a sly or humorous view of the standards and values of the time. All kinds of celebrations will be on show—elegant garden parties, fairs, banquets and peasant weddings, Carnivals, Masquerades, family gatherings on St Nicholas Eve, Twelfth Night and May festivities.
Exploration of artistic limits
Celebrations were a popular subject for painters in the Golden Age. These themes sold well and they also gave painters the opportunity to explore their artistic limits. The growing popularity of the subject was due in no small measure to Jan Steen, the supreme painter of festivities in the seventeenth century. He pictured more types of celebration than any other artist, and excelled in telling expressions and humorous compositions. Seven of his works will be on display in the exhibition.