Frans Snyders (1579-1657)

Frans Snyders was a Flemish painter most noted for his work in still life and animal imagery. Born in 1579 to Jan Snyders, a wine merchant, and his wife Maria, Frans was one of five children to the couple. At age fourteen, his parents apprenticed him to Pieter Brueghel the Younger, with whom he stayed for four years learning the techniques of 16th- and 17th- century Flemish artistry. During this time, Frans became close friends with Jan Brueghel, who ultimately became the young man’s mentor. Aiding him in his search for patronage, Jan Brueghel pushed the burgeoning artist into the practice of painting animals and still-life; as time progressed, this became Snyders’ specialty and trademark. In 1602, at age twenty-three, Synders joined the Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp, which at the time was under the joint diaconate of Jan Brueghel and Otto Van Veen. By 1609 he had traveled to Milan under the instruction of Brueghel, visiting Brueghel’s patron Federico Borromeo there. Upon his return to Antwerp, he began his own shop and apprenticeship program (though he only took on three apprentices in his lifetime). From 1610 on, Snyders and his work rose in popularity and value; Brueghel himself noted in a letter that his mentee was encumbered with labor, had carved out a particular fame for himself in the field, and was able to increase prices with the exponential bettering of his work. In 1611, Snyders married Margriet de Vos, and though they had no children, the couple remained together until her death in 1647. In June of 1619, the Brotherhood of the Romanists elected him onto their confraternity, of which there were only twenty-five members. By the ninth year of his membership, Snyders had begun serving as Dean for the group. Snyders’ patrons and buyers were typically persons of wealth, social rank, and political clout. Some included Sir Dudley Carleton, the Duke of Buckingham, the Marquis of Leganés, Archdukes Albert and Isabella, the Estates General of France, and the Municipality of Antwerp itself. Snyders died on August 19th, 1657, aged seventy-eight. He left behind a considerable estate of more than 50,000 guilders, a large collection of art, and general wealth willed to close relatives and to the poor.
By Saffron Sener

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