Already  in  his  Lifetime

the  Rich  yearned  for  his  Paintings

350  Years  Posthumous  Fame

Princely  Painter  –  Painter  of  the  Princes

Frans  Snyders  1657  –  2007

“(He) is regarded as most important still life and animal painter of Flemish art, maybe even of his epoch. A generous and shining-colorful painting technique distinguishes his works . Friendly relations to Rubens resulted in joint works … also in paintings of van Dyck Snyders frequently painted animal and still life accessories … (and) did not have a permanent workshop”

(catalog Berlin/Dahlem, 1975, page 405).

His portrait by the hand of van Dyck in the New York Frick Collection shows him as a sovereign man. Radiating not least that generosity which for Thieme-Becker also distinguishes his paintings and, equal among equals, beside artistic fame also earned him the economic equivalent. And when on August 24, 1657, the will of the childless widowed princely painter was opened he had thought as expected of everything and everyone. From sister Marie, head of the care of the sick at the Beguinage in his hometown Antwerp, as universal heiress over the nephews and nieces and their children, the godchildren “who partly also should receive jewelry” (Hella Robels), up to the two maids, the poor, and the Lucas Guild. His art collection was purchased by the art dealer Musson whose detailed inventory published two years later lets assume “a considerable level” of it. Characteristically his house in the Keizerstraat was called fortuyne.

“ S(nyders’) art directly continues that of Jan Bruegel I,

but  gains  a  greatness  and  independence

which that has achieved never, and which can only be explained from a decisive influence by P. P. Rubens … (The latter, as also others up to van Dyck and Jordaens, has) recruited S. for the painting of animals, fruit, and flowers in his paintings and … employed constantly ”

(Thieme-Becker XXXI [1937], 190).

The latter especially for the spectacular orders of Philip IV of Spain for which Snyders’ participation finally became explicit part of the contract.

“ The partnership of Rubens and Snyders certainly is a fascinating theme

which through the centuries was mentioned again and again and in 1971 was examined in an important essay of Michael Jaffé. The co-operation with Rubens also was the real starting point for my occupation with the still life painter who captivated me more and more. That Rubens highly influenced Snyders’ development would barely be denied by anyone. Particularly also

his  pictorial  development  seems  to  have  taken  place

parallel  to  that  of  the  Antwerp  grand  master .

In his still life sujets he had a farer reaching and newly establishing function, however,

which  must  have  impressed  Rubens  highly .

Here he cultivated a specialism that raised him to the leading master in his domain in Antwerp. The still life painting by Snyders is valued far to little yet. Beside the large market paintings and pantries with and without figures

the  pure  still  lifes  of  medium  and  smaller  size

fascinate  by  their  dynamic  compositions ,

by the outspoken tactile presence of the objects, by the power of the colors. One cannot escape the lucky accord of these qualities … ”

(Hella Robels, Frans Snyders, 1989, page 9).

Snyders  had  become  the  incarnation  of  ultimate  authority  for  the  zoological & botanical

while in line with most co-operative division of labor of the time renown colleagues painted the figures for him and still the landscape backgrounds frequently are by Jan Wildens. We are not going to ignore this his particular ability as we approach his

still  life  as  a  zenith  of  the  late  years

put  up  below  for  a  purchase  seizing  the  opportunity .

Snyders’ paintings, so Zoege von Manteuffel in Thieme-Becker continuing, represent

“ on  their  field  companions  to  Rubens’  figure  paintings ”.

Death in Snyders’ still lifes, present in the dead game no different as in the fruit and plants deprived of their livelines, understood as an aesthetic experience, as beauty sui generis, originating from that perfection that makes so speechless in front of old Netherlandish painting.

Here  then  and  today …

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(Mr. P. T., May 21, 2008)