Malle Babbe

Style of Frans Hals Dutch

Not on view

In 1872 Henry James described the painting as "dashed upon the canvas by a brush superbly confident." Hals's authorship has been discounted since the 1880s but the picture must be by a close follower, and is based upon Hals's Malle Babbe of the early 1630s (Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen, Berlin) or a lost version of that composition. The title comes from an old inscription on the back of the Berlin painting and may be the nickname of a Haarlem personality. In the seventeeth century, owls were often associated with fools or vulgar behavior. A Dutch proverb, "drunk as an owl," is recalled by the woman's large tankard in the canvas in Berlin.

Malle Babbe, Style of Frans Hals (Dutch, second quarter 17th century), Oil on canvas

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