With this portrait painting of a gypsy girl, Frans Hals continues in the Caravaggesque tradition of popular subjects which had been imported into the Netherlands by artists like Terbrugghen and Honthorst. Painted around 1628-30, it is striking for its psychological penetration and the liveliness of the expression. Hals has obtained this effect of great immediacy and spontaneity by skillfully constructing a slightly asymmetrical face and emphasizing the prominent features (the eyes, the corners of the mouth) with a strong chiaroscuro: the impression this creates is one of movement, as if the girl's expression were changing before our very eyes. The illusion is strengthened by her pose, in which she seems to have just turned her head to the right, with a dynamism that is underlined by the formless background, also asymmetrical, that grows paler to the right. As always in Hals, the handling of the paint is very brisk, with long brushstrokes laid on without under painting. Note the beautiful representation of the blouse, one of the artist's finest pieces of work in which he manages to capture the texture and sheen of the material with just a few touches of brilliant and luminous color.
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