Listening to Art

10.05: Frans Hals, The Gypsy Girl

Download (MP3).

Listening to Art, by William Denton.

Volume ten, number five: The Gypsy Girl by Frans Hals.

Hello, and welcome to Listening to Art. I’m William Denton.

This 1626 painting is one of many portraits Hals made of unnamed sitters. In his book Frans Hals, Seymour Slive reassures us (p. 92):

Under Hals’ brush the common subject of the portrait of a mischievous young woman is raised to highest art. The Gipsy Girl is a celebration of a fleeting moment of palpitating life…. Unwholesome feelings are the last things she evokes.

He makes some comments about Hals’s brushwork (pp. 93–94):

It is also significant that in the so-called Gipsy Girl he made changes to his original conception. A photograph of the lower half of the painting taken in a raking light shows brushstrokes underneath the surface of the top layer of paint. These strokes—the diagonal ones on the left side of her bosom are most evident—reveal that Hals originally made her décolletage less daring. Pentimenti, as we have already mentioned, are rare in Hals’ work. He worked with a godly surety from the beginning until the end. The unusual pentimenti in the Gipsy Girl indicate that Hals’ first impulse, or if one can still use the phrase, his natural impulse, was to make his unselfconscious model more decorous than she is now.

This is a painting, oil on wood, 52 cm wide by 58 cm high.

Now let’s listen to The Gypsy Girl by Frans Hals, recorded at the Louvre, in Paris, on 18 July 2019.

Waveform of the field recording.

That was The Gypsy Girl by Frans Hals. I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I did.

For more information and links to things I’ve mentioned, please visit

Listening to Art is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


All web sites accessed as of date of publication.

Musée du Louvre. “La Bohémienne.” Site officiel du musée du Louvre.

Slive, Seymour. Frans Hals: Volume One; Text. London: Phaidon, 1970.

Wikipedia, s.v. “Frans Hals,”

⸻, s.v. “The Gypsy Girl,”