Frans Hals: Malle Babbe (1633-1635)

(Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, Germany)

A well known painting from the Dutch master Frans Hals (1582-1666). The title of the painting comes from the inscription on the back which Frans Hals made: "Malle Babbe van Haerlem, ... Frans Hals". The painting is not a satire or tronie but rather a portrait of a woman who lived in the town of Haarlem in the 17th century. The name of the woman was Barbara Claes but she was called 'malle babbe' ('crazy babbe'). She was later taken to the local hospice called 'Het Dolhuys', a sort of 17th century lunatic asylum. The owl was added later by Frans Hals and is probably a reference to the Dutch proverb, "drunk as an owl". Painting from 1633-1635.