A portraitist of extraordinary stature, Frans Hals made an original contribution to Dutch portraiture during a career spanning more than fifty years. In addition to depicting individuals, Hals gained lasting fame with his group portraits of Haarlem's civic militia, in which he portrayed the lively company of militiamen and officers without losing sight of the hierarchical rules essential to these ceremonial paintings.
Hals is notable for his extremely loose brushwork, and helped introduce this lively style of painting into Dutch art. No drawings by Frans Hals have survived. This absence of preliminary studies suggests that he improvised directly on his canvases and his sketchy brushstrokes also imply he worked very quickly. Hals, who entered the Haarlem artists' guild in 1610, adopted an ever freer, looser handling of paint over the course of his career. Hals studied under Karel van Mander, whose Mannerist influence, however, is not noticeably visible in his work.