From the museum press release
The official handover of the largest gift in the museum’s recent history took place in the Frans Hals Museum on Friday 15 April 2011. The Elisabeth van Thüringen Fund is donating eleven works of art from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries to the City of Haarlem and the Frans Hals Museum. Among the works there is a large and rare group portrait by Frans Hals. The total value of the gift is at least €100 million. The works can be seen in the exhibition A Magnificent Gesture until 10 July.
The works, including the spectacular group portraits of the Regents and Regentesses of St Elisabeth’s or Groote Hospital by Frans Hals and Johannes Verspronck, have been hanging in the Frans Hals Museum for some time on loan from the Elisabeth van Thüringen Fund. The trustees of this fund are the direct descendants of the men and women portrayed in the paintings by Hals and Verspronck. Thanks to the extraordinarily generous gift from the Elisabeth van Thüringen Fund the most important works from this collection are now the property of the City of Haarlem and part of the museum’s collection. Director Karel Schampers of the Frans Hals Museum said, “A greater or more interesting gift is almost inconceivable – if for no other reason than that iconic group portraits like these by Hals and Verspronck are all in museum collections and will never come on to the market.”
Collected over Four Centuries
There are several reasons why the Elisabeth van Thüringen Fund decided to gift the eleven most important works from their collection to the Frans Hals Museum and the City of Haarlem. Peter van Barneveld, Senior Trustee of the Elisabeth van Thüringen Fund and Chairman of the Board of the Kennemer Hospital in Haarlem, explained, “These masterpieces belong to the cultural heritage of Haarlem and the Netherlands. The works need attention and conservation. They belong in a place where they can be exhibited as they deserve and the public will always be able to see them. The Frans Hals Museum is the right place for them.”
The collection was created four hundred years ago as the art collection of St Elisabeth’s or Groote Hospital (now the Kennemer Hospital). In 1977 the collected paintings and the historical objets d’art were placed in the Elisabeth van Thüringen Fund, which manages the collection. The Kennemer Hospital in Haarlem and Haarlem Local Authority are represented in this fund.
A Gift of €100 million
As well as the group portraits by Frans Hals and Johannes Verspronck, the gift includes two works by Maerten van Heemskerck, and paintings by Dirck Hals, Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem, Nicolaes Roosendaal, Adriaan Backer, Frans Decker and a follower of Joachim Patenier. The Elisabeth van Thüringen Fund has also donated a decorated charter box of St Elisabeth’s Hospital from around 1625.
Two paintings, The Regents of St Elisabeth’s or Groote Gasthuis by Frans Hals and the View of Rome with the Good Samaritan by Maerten van Heemskerck will be restored by the Frans Hals Museum in the near future.