Information from the museum’s website, 28 April 2015
During Frans Hals: Work in Progress, from 13 June to 27 September in the Frans Hals Museum, visitors will be able to watch the restoration of Hals’s world-famous Regentesses of the Old Men’s Almshouse as it happens. The museum’s restorers will be working on this painting in a workshop in one of the galleries under the public gaze. This ‘work in progress’ is part of an exhibition about the restoration of the three unique regent portraits that Frans Hals painted. Visitors will be able to watch the progress of this massive restoration project, learn about the restoration history and the art-historical context of the paintings and share in a number of extraordinary discoveries.
The exhibition will present three stages: before, during and after restoration. At the start of the presentation visitors will see the completed restoration of the Regents of the St Elisabeth’s Hospital, on display for the first time to the public without its layers of dirty varnish and old retouches. The restoration of the Regentesses of the Old Men’s Almshouse is ongoing and will be continued in the workshop. The restoration of the Regents of the Old Men’s Almshouse is still in the preparatory stage: research is underway but restoration work has yet to be started. It is already clear that this painting has also darkened considerably. Old drawings of it give an impression of the original colours.
The presentation will also look at the research into Hals’s portraits of regents, the restoration history of the paintings and their original appearance. Several questions and dilemmas that arise from the research, the restoration and preservation of old paintings will be examined. What did these paintings look like in the past? What has changed? How was Hals able to paint so expressively and with such assurance? What kind of materials did he use and how did he build up his paintings? What can we do to preserve such valuable paintings for the future? Frans Hals’s incredible painting technique and the original destinations of the paintings in the various regents’ rooms will also be explored.