Malle Babbe, France Hals – a description of the picture

Malle Babbe, France Hals – a description of the picture
Malle Babbe, France Hals - a description of the picture - 1

  • Posted by France Hals
  • Museum: Berlin Art Gallery
  • Year: 1635

Description of the picture :

Malle Babbe – France Hals. Oil on canvas. 75 x 64 cm

   Frances Hals has a lively and easy style. Maybe that’s why he especially succeeded portraits of ordinary people – street musicians who drank men, innkeepers, loafers, drunkards, gypsies and fishermen. He likes their fun attitude to life, simplicity and liveliness of emotions.

   One of the characteristic, vivid and very emotional works of Hals is the famous “Malle Babbe”, which has become the most recognizable picture of the artist.

   According to the documents found, it is known that this woman actually lived in Harlem, kept the tavern and in 1653 either was sent to prison, or to a correctional house, or to a monastery shelter.

   But Hals’ talent is manifested in the fact that he knows how to distract from the appearance of his character (of course, without losing his resemblance) and depicts the inner essence, his energy, his strength of his influence on others and on the artist himself.

   Barbara Claas (Malle Babbe) was called a witch in Harlem and considered a witch. Well, judging by the portrait, she fully justified such a nickname.

   The owl sitting on her shoulder and the jar of wine in her hand give her the appearance of a sort of sea pirate who is not afraid of anything in the world. Before the viewer, the character of the mistress of the tavern is completely revealed – the prickly, reckless, wayward, attractive, and even conquering with its strength and unusualness.

   With a cunning look, a big mouth stretches in a frightening oscale. Add to this demonic laughter – hoarse and ominous, which she possessed and here is the “Charlemic witch” in all its glory.

   Facial features are not at all feminine. It is easier for Malle Babbe to imagine as a companion and drinking companion in the company of visitors to her institution than as the keeper of the hearth.

   Halsa’s skill is also manifested in the manner of execution – she is a sweeping and confident. How easy it is to imagine the author of the picture in his work, his fast and free movements of the brush, strokes, striving to grasp the elusive moments of the facial expressions or a particularly characteristic look. Using this method of writing, it may seem that work will create a feeling of unfinished, but this is not – the portrait is amazingly harmonious.

   And thanks to the sharp eye of the artist, his talent in front of the audience looms a colorful, spectacular and bright genre scene from the life of village people. Halsa’s genius is that the viewer stops and freezes his eyes on this frighteningly ugly, ominous-fun old woman-tractyr, on whose shoulder a night bird sits.