Frans Snyders
Biography of Baroque Still Life Painter, Animal Artist.

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Still Life With Dead Game
Art Institute of Chicago (1614). (detail)

Frans Snyders (1579-1657)

One of the great Netherlandish Old Masters, Frans Snyders (or Snijders) was the undisputed Baroque master of still life painting and animal subjects. Influenced by his teacher Pieter Brueghel the Younger, his most notable works include Wild Boar Hunt, 1649 (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence); Still Life with a Swan, 1613 (The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow); Flowers, Fruits and Vegetables (Royal Museum for Fine Arts, Antwerp) and Still Life with Dead Game, Fruits, and Vegetables in a Market, 1614 (Art Institute of Chicago). Snyders remains one of the greats of 17th century Dutch painting, and one of the most important figures in Flemish Baroque art.

Still Life With Dead Game, Fruits
and Vegetables In A Market (1614).
By Frans Snyders.
A typical example of still life art
in the manner of Dutch Realism
from the 17th century.

For top creative practitioners, see:
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For the best still life painters:
Jan Davidsz de Heem (1606-83)
Utrecht School of Dutch Realism.
Willem Kalf (1619-93)
Pronkstilleven Paintings.
Samuel van Hoogstraten (1627-78)
Interiors, genre works, still lifes.
Rachel Ruysch (1664-1750)
Flower painter, still lifes.

For details and information about
the 17th Century style of easel-art
which flourished in Holland, see:
Frans Hals
Antwerp Portraitist
Hendrik Terbrugghen (1588-1629)
Painter of the Utrecht school.
Adriaen Brouwer (1605-38)
Noted for his tavern genre-pictures.
Adriaen van Ostade (1610-85)
Peasant scene artist, from Haarlem.
Rembrandt (1606-69)
Unique portraiture, self portraits.
David Teniers the Younger (1610-90)
Peasant, guardroom scenes.


Born in Antwerp, the son of an innkeeper, little is known of the detail of Frans Snyders life. He studied under Pieter Brueghel the Younger in 1593 and went on to receive further instruction under Hendrick van Balen, also the teacher of Van Dyck. He became a good friend of Van Dyck, who painted Snyders and his wife several times.

In 1602 he became Master of the Antwerp Painters Guild and in 1608, he completed his studies in fine art painting with a trip to Rome to view the Renaissance masters at first hand. In 1611, he married the sister of Cornelis and Paul de Vos, both animal painters themselves. Initially, Snyders focused on painting still life, flowers, fruits, and bowls. He was hugely prolific and became financially successful very quickly.

His compositions are rich and varied, and his ability to depict various textures, skin, fur, metal, glass was unsurpassed. His most famous painting of this period is Still Life with Dead Game, Fruits, and Vegetables in a Market.

Gerard Terborch (1617-81)
Genre painter, Amsterdam, Haarlem.
Aelbert Cuyp (1620-91)
Dordrecht landscape artist.
Jan Steen (1626-79)
Leiden artist: tavern scenes.
Jacob Van Ruisdael (1628-82)
Haarlem-born landscape painter
Pieter de Hooch (1629-83)
Famous Delft school genre-painter.
Gabriel Metsu (1629-67)
Intimate small-scale genre scenes.
Jan Vermeer (1632-75)
Greatest Dutch Realist artist.
Dutch Realist Artists
A list of the great painters of
the Baroque Dutch Golden Age.
Baroque Art Movement
17th century art movement.

An old man, the vendor, tips his hat at the viewer, inviting us in to view the array of dead animals and fruit on offer for sale. The painting itself suggests a struggle between vice and virtue. A little boy picks the pocket of the vendor while a menacing cat sits with glowing eyes waiting to pounce on the weaker of two cocks that are fighting. There is a peacock, (traditionally the symbol of pride), a wild boar (the symbol of gluttony and lust) and a deer (associated with a noble heart).

Snyders' still lifes typically contain a hint of action, a sniffing dog, a cat, a person picking a grape to eat. These features add extra tension and excitement to the composition.

Snyders often collaborated with other artists. For example he might paint the still life or animal component of a work being painted by Peter Paul Rubens. Snyders ran a busy studio in Flanders, and had several assistants to help him. The human figures in many of his paintings are thought to be the hand of other artists, while he focused on still life and animals.

Later in his career, Snyders specialised more and more in painting animals, particularly hunting scenes and fights between wild animals. In fact he became one of the first animalier specialists. (An animalier is an artist who is known for their skill in the realistic portrayal of animals). Although the work may be in any genre or media, the term is most often applied to painters and sculptors.

Other paintings by Synders include Concert of Birds, 1630 (Museo del Prado, Madrid); Cook with Food, c.1630 (Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne); The Fruit-Seller, c.1636 (Museo del Prado); Still Life with a Dog and Her Puppies (Alte Meister Gallerie, Dresden); Fish Stall (The Hermitage, St. Petersburg); The Fable of the Fox and the Crane, c.1630 (Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, New York), Fox Hunting (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) and Stag Hunt (Mauritshuis, The Hague).

Snyders became principal painter to the Archduke Albert of Austria, and completed some of his best works under this patron, including the Stag Hunt, which was given to Philip III of Spain as a present. Snyders died in Antwerp in 1657, at the grand old age of 78. Today he is considered to be one of the greatest Dutch Realist artists and one of the greatest exponents of still life in the history of art.

Works by Frans Snyders can be seen inthe best art museums across Europe.

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