Art: Homage to Hals

Until they opened a museum in the summer of 1862, the burghers of Haarlem in The Netherlands never fully realized the extent of their riches. There had been paintings in various public buildings all over town, but now they were assembled under one roof, and the effect was dazzling. The museum was appropriately named for the great 17th century master Frans Hals, for it was his work that towered over everything else.

Last week, in celebration of its centennial, the museum had on view the largest exhibition of Hals paintings ever held. Eleven of the canvases belonged to Haarlem; the rest came...

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