(b Antwerp, 1582/3; d Haarlem, 29 Aug. 1666). Dutch painter. He was Flemish by birth; his parents left Antwerp after the city was captured by the Spaniards in 1585 and moved to Holland. They had settled in Haarlem by 1591 and Hals spent the rest of his long life there. He was twice married, had at least ten children, and was constantly in financial trouble. Houbraken says he was ‘filled to the gills every evening’, but there is no real foundation for the popular image of him as a drunken wife-beater. His second wife, however, was more than once in trouble for brawling. During his last years he was destitute and the municipal authorities of Haarlem awarded him a small annual stipend four years before his death.Hals was the first great artist of the 17th-century Dutch School and is regarded as one of the most brilliant of all portraitists. Almost all his works are portraits and even those that are not (some genre scenes, and an occasional religious picture) are portrait-like in character. He is said to have been taught in Haarlem by Karel van Mander, but there is no discernible influence from him in Hals's early works, which are not numerous or well documented. The earliest dated picture associated with him is Jacobus Zaffius (1611, Hals Mus., Haarlem; perhaps a copy), and on stylistic evidence a few other paintings can be dated around the same time. Nothing he did before 1616 anticipated the way he shattered well-established traditions that year with his life-size group portrait of the Banquet of the Officers of the St George Militia Company (Hals Mus.).