Frans Snyders , artist who was the most-noted 17th-century painter of animals. His subjects included still life of markets and pantries (featuring both live animals and dead game), animals in combat, and hunting scenes. A highly skilled painter who was celebrated for his ability to capture the textures of and play of light on feathers and fur, Snyders was part of a large and friendly group of artists who helped transform Antwerp from a city of commerce and finance to a vibrant center for the arts.
The inn kept by Snyders’s parents was popular with artists. As a young man, Snyders studied under Pieter Bruegel the Younger, but Snyders’s painting style may have been more influenced by Bruegel’s younger brother, Jan, who was nicknamed “Velvet Bruegel” because of his virtuosity in painting textures. Snyders is also believed to have studied under Hendrik van Balen, the first teacher of Anthony Van Dyck. As a result of Snyders’s talent and training, he became a master in 1602 in the Guild of St. Luke, the Antwerp painters’ guild.
Thereafter, like many other Flemish artists of the day, he visited Italy, staying for several months during 1608–09 in Rome and then in Milan, where he was patronized by Federico Cardinal Borromeo. About 1610, after his return to Antwerp, Snyders began a long friendship and professional collaboration with Peter Paul Rubens, and in 1611 Snyders married Margriet (Margaretha) de Vos, the sister of Flemish painters Cornelis and Paul de Vos (respectively, c. 1584–1651 and c. 1591–1678). In addition to the painters’ guild, Snyders joined the Romanists (1572–1785; a confraternity of humanists, artists, and art lovers who had traveled to Rome) and was dean of that society in 1628.
Image: Interior of an Office, painting by Frans Snyders, c. 1635; in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Caen, France.