MANY have been the painters who worshiped at the altar of Frans Hals. And with what dismal results! Worship inspired imitation; imitation brought forth artistic atrocities.
Hals used a technique so intimately related to his personality that an attempt to copy his style is like trying to acquire angelic virtues by wearing wings. Virtuosity can be repeated. Hals had more than simple virtuosity. He had character and a unique personality, and expressed both forcefully.
The poor souls who sit and waste their days copying old masters in dimly lit museums, measuring distances and mixing pigments with infinite perfection--let them copy Hals! Square inch by square inch, compare closely the copied color and brush strokes. Miraculously accurate--the original seems reborn. But place the copy beside the true picture and stand back. Then look, and look hard. The gulf is as wide as the difference between life and death.
For Hals had the world's most fluent brush and a warm, probing, adventurous spirit. Art hasn't had such a mixture again since his time.