Monday, March 2, 2009

The Fish Still Life1-Frans Snyders

One of the more distinct genres encompassed in Still Life painting is the Fish Still Life. Apparently, its origins lie in the "pronk" or "table pieces" of the late 16th and 17th century where Dutch and Flemish artists executed themed still life paintings for their wealthy patrons. One of the first and certainly one of the most gifted of these painters was Frans Snyders (1579 - 1657). Snyders was born and died at Antwerp. He is recorded as a student of Pieter Brueghel the Younger in 1593 and subsequently received instruction from Hendrick van Balen, the first master of Van Dyck. He was a friend of Van Dyck who painted Snyders and his wife more than once, Snyders initially devoted himself to painting flowers, fruit and subjects of still life, but later turned to painting animals, and executed with the greatest skill and spirit hunting pieces and combats of wild animals. His composition is rich and varied, his drawing correct and vigorous, his touch bold and thoroughly expressive of the different textures of furs and skins. His excellence in this department excited the admiration of Rubens, who frequently employed him to paint animals, fruit and still life in his own pictures, and he assisted Jacob Jordaens, Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert and other artists in a similar manner.With an amazingly sympathetic and discerning eye, Snyders masterfully captures the nuance of light as it passes over the varied colors and textures. The fish glisten in the theatrical light of the studio. There is also a self-conscious delight the artist takes in the way paint can mimic the effects of light on the objects, most evident in the contrasts between the textured impastos and smooth silky brushwork.

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