Dirk Hals


Wood (oak), oil, 50.8 x 78.5 cm

The presented work of ancient Dutch painting can be classified as one of the fairly typical works of the famous Dutch genre painter Dirk Hals of the late period of creativity, in which there is a noticeable departure from the decorative brightness of the palette and an interest in depicting the spatial environment, as if enveloping the figure.
The painting by Dirk Hals depicts an ancient and very popular concert scene in its time - a social, fun pastime of the Dutch “golden youth”. A company of smartly dressed men and women is presented. The demonstrativeness of their poses and theatrical gestures, directly appealing to the viewer, suggests, in addition to showing the dernier cri of Dutch fashion of that time, the presence of a hidden didactic subtext. A young man plays the violin, a girl standing next to him sings, other couples play dice or are just being nice. And although the action develops in a modestly furnished Dutch interior, on the walls of which there are paintings, compositions of this kind evoked quite definite associations among contemporaries with the ancient Gospel parable about the Prodigal Son, who unrighteously squandered his father’s fortune. In the 16th century in the Netherlands, under the influence of moralizing plays written on the basis of a parable, a stable iconography of a multi-figure gallant scene developed, in which, as a rule, the central place was given to the image of a music group. In the next century in Holland, this tradition was enriched by the widely popular play about the Prodigal Son, written by Willem Dirks Hooft and first staged in Amsterdam in 1630. In it, the events were transferred to modern times (in the play the Prodigal Son is named Julian), and the cheerful revelry of a group of Dutch youth in a brothel acquired a number of additional genre details, among which an important role was played by singing and playing music. Music was perceived as an effective means of love seduction.

Dutch realism