- 1579 - 1657
Frans Snyders was the first specialist in a new Flemish form of still life: the animal still life. Born in Antwerp, he studied under Pieter Brueghel the Younger. In 1608 he made the requisite painter's trip to Italy to view its works of art. The following year he became part of a circle that ultimately included Jacob Jordaens, Jan Brueghel the Elder, and Peter Paul Rubens, helping to establish Antwerp as an artistic center. Prized as the finest animal painter of his day, Snyders had a gift for large, well-balanced compositions. His still lifes usually contain a hint of action, such as a sniffing dog, but above all, they allowed Snyders to display his skill at organizing a rich variety of textures, colors, and shapes. In addition to his own energetic hunting scenes and complex still lifes, Snyders was often employed by his close friend Rubens on the still life and animal sections of Rubens's paintings. Rubens admired Snyders, but when a patron once confused their work, Rubens reacted sharply: no one could depict dead animals better than Snyders, but for live animals, Rubens was himself the better painter.