New exhibitions make Haarlem irresistible
Two new exhibitions have just opened in Haarlem: one on Leonardo's drawings and the other highlighting the influence of Frans Hals on Impressionist painters. So if you are planning a visit to this lovely city, now would be an especially good time to go
Thewarrior’s face literally jumps out of the paper towards you – his mouth open, eye staring straight ahead. You can almost hear his battle-cry. He has no hair or body beyond his neck and a slight shoulder, but you are in no doubt that this man is alive and could turn to face you at any time. This is Leonardo da Vinci's Study of the Head of a Young Warrior in
Profile to the Left, drawn with red chalk. It is part of an exhibition being held at the fascinating Teylers Museum in Haarlem, which concentrates on Leonardo’s drawings, and in particular his representations of real people.
The first room concentrates on different types of subjects that he may have used in later paintings as his apostles, angels, warriors or Madonnas. Here there are studies of women and children, old men, a young woman. All are beautifully executed, as we know he was keen to portray different emotions successfully. Many of the drawings are from his time in Florence as a young man, and we can see his interest in his fellow human beings right from an early age.
A second room centres on his portrayals of the more misshapen or ugly faces: characters with large chins or noses – it would seem that he was fascinated with them. A third room is devoted to his painting of The Last Supper which is projected as a life-sized replica (4.6 x 8.8 m), onto one wall. On the opposite wall is an early copy from the abbey in Tongerlo, which interestingly shows some of the details that are now lost to us in the original painting.
On the eve of the 500th anniversary of his death, this exhibition at the Teylers Museum is the first major show of Leonardo’s work in the Netherlands and shouldn't be missed.
It shows great planning on behalf of the city of Haarlem that another major exhibition is also on nearby at the Frans Hal Museum. Here, another excellently curated exhibition looks at the influence that Frans Hals had on later, impressionist artists such as Manet, Monet, Singer Sargent, Liebermann and van Gogh. Frequent visitors to Haarlem themselves, they were fascinated by his style – the loose, rough brushstroke – and emulated many different aspects of his work – from characters (such as the laughing child) to details of clothing (the ruff collar makes a comeback). Also included in the exhibition are some of the copies the Impressionist painters made of his work – including some of his larger ones – which are astonishing to behold.
Commemorating the 150th anniversary since Hals was ‘rediscovered’, the show includes many works that have never been seen before in the Netherlands and altogether it makes a thoughtful and wellworth-seeing exhibition.