Malle Babbe' ("malle" means mad) is undoubtedly one of Hals's masterpieces. The powerful handling of paint conveys emotion, spontaneity and a natural quality in a virtuoso fashion. The complex movement underlines this effect. The owl indicates a second level of meaning. lt was seen as a symbol of wisdom, but as a night bird it also stood for the darker sides of human behaviour, Iike stupidity and drunkenness. The prominently placed pewter tankard leaves no doubt about which vice is meant here.