Rijksmuseum Director Seeks Return of Stolen Frans Hals Masterpiece Ahead of Major Exhibition

Rijksmuseum Director Seeks Return of Stolen Frans Hals Masterpiece Ahead of Major Exhibition

Selena Mattei | Feb 14, 2024 2 minutes read 0 comments

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is calling for the return of a stolen Frans Hals painting, valued at €15m, ahead of a significant exhibition featuring the Dutch master's works. The painting, "Two Laughing Boys With a Mug of Beer," stolen in 2020, remains missing, overshadowing the upcoming showcase of Hals's celebrated pieces.

The head of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has issued a public call for the recovery of a Frans Hals masterpiece, taken in a theft, as the museum readies for a significant showcase featuring works of the renowned Dutch artist, despite the absence of the invaluable piece valued at €15m.

In an unfortunate event from August 2020, the artwork titled Two Laughing Boys With a Mug of Beer was stolen from the Museum Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden located in Leerdam, Netherlands. This incident occurred alongside the theft of a Van Gogh piece, presumed stolen by the same criminals, which was fortunately recovered last year. However, the Frans Hals painting seems to have disappeared into the underworld.

During the announcement of the Hals exhibition on Tuesday, Taco Dibbits, the director general, highlighted the unique value of the stolen painting, emphasizing its distinctive composition showcasing two boys interacting, a departure from Hals's typical solitary or group portraits. Dibbits expressed his hope for the painting's return, underscoring its importance to the collective cultural heritage.

Set to open on Friday, the exhibition will present 50 masterpieces by Hals, a 17th-century icon known for his vibrant portrayals of laughter, rosy cheeks, and spirited scenes, celebrated for his “loose touch” technique. Additionally, the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, where Hals spent his career, will feature an expanded display of his works.

This Amsterdam exhibition, while inspired by a prior exhibition at the National Gallery in London soon to be presented in Berlin, boasts exclusive pieces never shown elsewhere. Among them is the monumental Banquet of the Officers of the St George Militia Company from 1616, displayed outside Haarlem for the first time with the mayor's special permission.

Dibbits praised Frans Hals as a pivotal figure in 17th-century art, lauding his ability to capture the essence of joy and movement through his dynamic brushwork and energetic style, even going as far as to attribute the inception of modern painting to Hals.

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