CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Vergnügliches Leben, verborgene Lust: Holländische Gesellschaftsszenen von Frans Hals bis Jan Steen

Pleasurable life, hidden desires: Dutch genre scenes from Frans Hals to Jan Steen Exhibition: 31 January - 16 May 2004


Pieter Biesboer* and Martina Sitt*

Museum information

In late January 2004 the Hamburger Kunsthalle will officially open the Hubertus Wald Forum, a new exhibition space within the museum building where future large-scale special exhibitions and events will be held.

The first exhibition in the new space is dedicated to the renowned Dutch genre painting; the colourful, sensuous paintings by Frans Hals and his pupils and colleagues, such as the well-known artist Judith Leyster and her husband Jan Miense Molenaer, but also Hendrick Pot, Esaias van de Velde, Willem Buytewech, Dirck Hals, Isack and Adriaen van Ostade and the famous Jan Steen, present a vivid pictorial account of an opulent lifestyle. A particular feature of the exhibition is the concentration on the heyday of genre painting in Haarlem. Works by Frans Hals and his contemporaries were last shown internationally in 1989/90 in Washington, London and Haarlem. The Frans Hals Museum Haarlem is contributing ten works from its own collection which have never been shown in Germany before.

The paintings of the time tempt the viewer with images of opulence, an extravagant lifestyle, pleasurable conversation and an enjoyment of joint games. They portray luxurious fabrics, overflowing tables and immodest conduct. Yet at the same time they also reflect a sceptical attitude towards a dissolute way of life. To this end the painters frequently employed allusion, hidden signs or rhetorical gestures familiar from the theatre or printed graphics.
For the first time the exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive programme of events covering all the themes touched upon in the paintings: from dining culture and musical soirées to the familiar pleasures of tobacco, wine and coffee. Seminars and guided tours will give visitors the chance to learn more about the way of life during the period.


Deutsche Unilever GmbH, ECE Projektmanagement GmbH and DIE WELT.


Pieter Biesboer and Martina Sitt, with contributions by literary historian Karel Bostoen, musicologist Louis Grijp and art historians Cynthia von Bogendorf Rupprath, Elmer Kolfin and Marvin Altner, contributions in Dutch and English translated into German by Marvin Altner, Von Frans Hals bis Jan Steen: vergnügliches Leben – verborgene Lust: holländische Gesellschaftszenen, Stuttgart (Belser) 2004. 224 pages, illustrated.
ISBN 3-7630-2433-6 (hardbound).

Other venue

Haarlem, Frans Halsmuseum (20 September 2003-4 January 2004).