Frans Hals was born in Antwerp but spend his working life in Haarlem, the Netherlands. He is best known for his militia pieces and portraits but also painted genre pieces. His style was colorful and exuberant, and not without humor as well. He painted his militia pieces ('schuttersstukken') as if you just walked in to the scene, less formal then some others.
Although he and van Gogh were by no means of the same generation, van Gogh had made it clear that he was also an admirer of Hals' style of painting. But also Monet and Manet made visites to his atelier in Haarlem. Maybe because of the more 'rough' style of painting. He deliberately did not make his paintings as smooth looking as many of his contemporaries.