As the Rijksmuseum prepares for an exhibition of 50 Frans Hals paintings set to open this Friday, its director general Taco Dibbits, during a press conference, made a plea with the criminal underworld to return Hals’s 1626 picture Two Laughing Boys with a Mug of Beer in time for the exhibition. The work was stolen, for the third time, in 2020 from the Museum Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden.
“That is an amazing painting,” said Dibbits, according to a report by The Guardian. “Usually he [Hals] paints a group portrait or people on their own and here you see two boys interacting. That is something we would love to show, and I really hope this painting will be rediscovered. This is a painting that belongs to us all.”
The painting is believed to have been stolen by the same outfit that stole an early Van Gogh in 2020 from the Singer Laren Museum. But unlike the Van Gogh, which was returned to the “art detective” Arthur Brand and will go on view this March at the Groninger Museum in the Northern Netherlands, the Hals has yet to surface.
The Rijksmuseum show, which is made up of 50 of Hals’s jaunty, red-cheeked pictures, is based on “The Credit Suisse Exhibition, Frans Hals” which first appeared in London’s National Gallery, and will feature works that were not included in the original show. Among those is the massive Banquet of the Officers of the St George Militia Company in 1616, a work that is leaving the city of Haarlem for the first time thanks to “a special approval from the mayor,” The Guardian reports.
“Frans Hals is one of the greatest painters of the 17th century, one of those painters who really captures laughing people, that fleeting movement, with quick brushstrokes and this enormous energy,” said Dibbits at the press conference. “Frans Hals invented modern painting.”