Auntie Doris’s Great Works of Art #2: Franz Hals, The Laughing Cavalier 1624


Well, for starters, the cavalier in this picture isn’t laughing. He might be smiling, or even smirking. But he’s not ruddy laughing and that’s a fact. He hasn’t even got his mouth open, so at best he is doing what some people try and pass off for a laugh, which is pushing a few short fast breaths down his nose, but he’s ruddy not doing that. I can tell. If he’s laughing, the Mona Lisa must be having ruddy hysterics!

I took an instant dislike to the Laughing Cavalier, the moment that I clapped eyes on it. He looks ruddy creepy if you ask me. His piggy little eyes follow you all around the room, even when you are getting dressed or undressed.

“If you think that you are hanging that thing up in the bedroom, you’ve got another think coming” I said to my Raymond.
Not that he had brought home the real Laughing Cavalier. They had been having a clear out at the Rose and Crown, and Sid Burton had let him have an old print that the Brewery had given him years ago. He ended up hanging it in the front room. But after a few weeks, I accidentally knocked it off the wall whilst I was dusting, and the frame got smashed. I had to whack it a few times with the handle of the duster to make sure that it did get smashed, but it did in the end.
That Franz Hals who painted it was one of them Dutch Masters, from Holland or somewhere. I’ve got nothing against him as a painter, he did some good pictures. Some of them look almost as good as photographs, and of ordinary looking people too. Its just that I reckon that Laughing Cavalier was probably one of them sexual perverts. There’s something about the way he looks at you, and he is wearing that many doilies around his wrists and cummerbunds around his middle that you can’t really make out what he is doing with his hands. Filthy so and so.
And you just know that if he was alive today, he would be one of those fat, self satisfied Tory buggers, who think that they are better than everybody else. Loom at him, with his fancy clothes and fancy hat and ridiculous moustache.
Any road, he would have been laughing on the other side of his face when they chopped the ruddy king’s head off in 1649. He wouldn’t have liked that. Maybe if Oliver Cromwell had been a bit more of a Socialist, we might have got rid of his kind in this country for ever. But I suppose its human nature, at least in the realm of the living, to be a bit greedy and grasping and want all the trappings of the posh life. And any road, socialism wasn’t even properly invented in those days, so old Cromwell didn’t do too bad, I suppose, although he was no Harold Wilson.

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