A Frans Hals family portrait re-united

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The Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio, USA is currently displaying three Frans Hals paintings portraying various members of the Van Campen family from 17th century Haarlem.

What is remarkable about this set is that the three works used to be part of a single painting.

Nobody knows why the original painting was cut up, but it could have been something simple like trying to make it fit the place where it was hung—Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, secretly considered by many Dutch as the greatest painting ever, was famously cut up once because it did not fit through a door.

The two larger pieces had long been considered related, but it was only recently that the connection between the middle and the smallest piece became clear. The Art Newspaper reports that during a restoration of the middle part, Children of the Van Campen Family with a Goat-Cart, a painted-over girl appeared that allowed the restorers to link the painting to Head of a Boy.

The exhibition will last until 19 January 2019, after which the paintings will be displayed in either Brussels and Paris or Brussels and Madrid.

Last week, two other portraits by Hals were sold at Christie’s in London for 11 million euro.

(Illustration: collage of two of the three Frans Hals paintings with white space indicating the presumed size of the original painting)

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