Frans Hals: The Male Portrait

Past Exhibitions & Displays

Frans Hals: The Male Portrait

Frans Hals: The Male Portrait

22 September 2021 – 30 January 2022
Admission charge

★★★★★ ‘Brilliant’ — The Observer
★★★★ ‘A significant moment’ — The Times
★★★★ ‘Exhilarating’ — The Telegraph
★★★★ ‘Splendid…the evolution of an extraordinary artist over his entire career’ — Evening Standard
‘A constellation of engrossing portraits’ — The Guardian

In autumn 2021, The Wallace Collection celebrated Frans Hals’s (1582/3-1666) most famous and beloved painting, The Laughing Cavalier, painted in 1624. Since it entered the Wallace Collection in 1865 as the only work by Hals, this iconic image had never previously been seen together with other works by the artist, and it formed the centrepiece of the exhibition.

Seventeenth-century, three-quarter length portrait of a young man
Frans Hals, The Laughing Cavalier, 1624. © The Trustees of the Wallace Collection, London.

In the first ever show to focus solely on Hals’s portraits of men posing on their own, The Laughing Cavalier was showcased alongside other great male portraits by Hals in order to explore his highly innovative approach to male portraiture in particular, from the beginning of his career in the 1610s until the end of his life in 1666.

This exhibition brought together a careful selection of the artist’s best male portraits from Europe and North America. In doing so, the show aimed to demonstrate how, through pose and virtuosic painterly technique, Hals completely revolutionised the male portrait into something entirely new and fresh, capturing and revealing his sitters’ characters like no one else before him. It also showcased the evolution of Hals’s style, which is especially evident in his male portraits, from finely painted works to those demonstrating increasingly free and loose handling in his later years.

A painting of a man with a beard wearing a hat
Frans Hals, Portrait of a Man, Possibly Nicolaes Pietersz Duyst van Voorhout, c. 1636–8. © The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The exhibition could be explored through a fascinating multimedia guide, containing insightful curator commentary, expert voices and observations from a special guest contributor, Grayson Perry.

You can now discover the exhibition online through our 3D virtual exhibition space, with the opportunity to get close to the paintings and listen to audio.

Two people stood in front of a painting of a man with a beard wearing a hat
Grayson Perry and Director of The Wallace Collection Dr Xavier Bray. Photo by Billy Ward.

The richly-illustrated exhibition catalogue, Frans Hals: The Male Portrait, by Dr Lelia Packer and Dr Ashok Roy, is available to order now. Buy yours today at our shop!

Read more about The Laughing Cavalier as our Treasure of the Month or explore this work in our Collection highlights

The Wallace Collection collaborated with men’s health charity, Movember, for this exhibition on special events and initiatives:

Movember is the leading charity changing the face of men’s health on a global scale, focusing on mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. The charity raises funds to deliver innovative, breakthrough research and support programmes that enable men to live happier, healthier and longer lives. Committed to disrupting the status quo, millions have joined the movement, helping fund over 1,250 projects around the world. In addition to tackling key health issues faced by men, Movember is working to encourage men to stay healthy in all areas of their life, with a focus on men staying socially connected and becoming more open to discussing their health and significant moments in their lives. The charity’s vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health. To donate or learn more, please visit

Find out more about the Wallace Collection's partnership with Movember here.

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