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Restoration of Frans Hals’s ‘Regentesses’ to be undertaken live in the museum

The Frans Hals Museum recently announced that visitors will be able to watch the restoration of Hals’s Regentesses of the Old Men’s Almshouse as it happens. The museum’s restorers will work in a workshop in one of the galleries during the exhibition Frans Hals: Work in Progress (13 June to 27 September 2015). The exhibition is part of a larger restoration project in which two other paintings will also be restored, these are the Regents of the St Elisabeth’s Hospital (ca. 1641) and the Regents of the Old Men’s Almshouse (ca. 1664).

See parts of the press release below for more information.

From the Museum’s press release, 14 April 2015

Restoration and Research
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.

‘Work in Progress’
The three regent portraits by Hals and the group portrait of the regentesses of the St Elisabeth’s Hospital by Johannes Verspronck will be on display during Frans Hals: Work in Progress. The exhibition will also include a reconstruction of the wall chart depicted in the Regents of the St Elisabeth’s Hospital, drawings by Wybrand Hendriks and Cornelis van Noorde, a number of historical books and records and an old box of historical restoration materials. Audio-visual aids will provide further explanation about the restorations and the research.

The restoration and exhibition is made possible by the financial support of the BankGiro Loterij, the Friends of the Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem, the Mondriaan Fonds, the Elisabeth van Thüringenfonds, the Prince Bernhard Cultuurfonds and Haarlem City Council.