Dirk Hals - The Fête Champêtre [1627]

A group of people (rich, chic and carefree) enjoy themselves at a 'garden party': a festive gathering in the grounds of a large country house. Elegantly dressed people talk, laugh, eat, drink, flirt and make music. The painter Dirck Hals was almost ten years younger than his famous elder brother Frans Hals. Dirck probably learnt to paint from his brother, though their paintings bear little resemblance to each other. Whereas Frans mainly painted portraits, Dirck made so-called 'companies': groups of fashionably-dressed people at parties in gardens or indoors. Nowadays such paintings depicting daily life are called genre paintings. 

Garden parties were popular subjects for paintings in the seventeenth century. The theme was taken from medieval depictions of love gardens: beautiful gardens with elegantly dressed people making music and flirting. Many parts of this garden party fit within this tradition: an enormous garden, exotic birds and the warning element of the monkey. 

[Oil on canvas, 78 x 137 cm]