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Oil painting - A Group of vegetables
  • A Group of vegetables
    Snyders, Frans, born 1579 - died 1657
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A Group of vegetables

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Date:

    Late 18th century (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Snyders, Frans, born 1579 - died 1657 (Painter)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Museum number:

    9115-1863

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Frans Snyders (1579-1657), born in Antwerp, was trained there by Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564/65-1637/38) and Hendrick van Balen (1575-1632). He became a member of the Antwerp Guild of St Luke in 1602 and travelled in Italy from 1608 to 1609. He rapidly specialised in still-lifes and animal paintings creating a new form of still life: the animal still life. He collaborated most notably with Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) but also with Cornelis de Vos (ca.1584-1651), Abraham Janssen (ca.1575-1632), and more sporadically with such artists as Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678), Jan Boeckhorst (1605-1668) or Willeboirts Bosschaert (1614-1654). He had a very large studio and trained most notably his brother-in-law Paul de Vos (1591/95-1678) and Jan Fyt (1611-1661).

This painting is a partial late 18th-century copy after a large composition by Frans Snyders. It shows the right hand-side vertical festoon made of a group of intertwined vegetables including pumpkins, artichokes, asparagus, sweetcorn, carrots and parsnips. This work has a companion piece (9116-1863) which is a copy of the upper part of the original composition, showing a wreath of fruits and flowers garland with brids twirling around. The discolouration of the present copy compare to the bright palette of its counterpart is most likely due to a dirty yellow varnish.

Physical description

A narrow vertical canvas depicting a group of intertwined vegetables including pumpkins, artichokes, asparagus, sweetcorn, carrots and parsnips.

Date

Late 18th century (painted)

Artist/maker

Snyders, Frans, born 1579 - died 1657 (Painter)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

Height: 135.2 cm estimate, Width: 50 cm estimate

Object history note

Purchased, 1863

Historical significance: This painting is a copy of a detail from a larger composition by Frans Snyders, The Infant Jesus with St John the Baptist and putti with flowers and fruits garlands, now in the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich (Inv. No.1793); identified as such by Charles Dumas and Fred G. Meijer (written communication, March 2010). Snyders' composition itself refers to a painting by Rubens, executed around 1615-20, depicting the same group of putti, now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (Inv. No. 680). The same group of putti reappears in another painting, The Fruit Festoon, in the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich (Inv. No. 330), the result of a collaboration between three painters: Rubens, with the group of putti, Adler von Wildens, for the landscape, and Snyders himself, who executed the still-life element. Snyders' original painting therefore refers to his own earlier collaboration with Rubens and Wildens, thus dating it to after 1620. The present painting depicts the vertical, right-hand side festoon of intertwined vegetables.

Snyders' original composition portrays a group of putti, among which feature the Infant Jesus and St John the Baptist, playing with a lamb and eating grapes. Above them hangs a wreath of fruits and flowers with circling birds, also copied independently (see 9116-1863). Snyders' still-life paintings usually bear symbolic meanings, and in the case of the original composition, this is enhanced by the central scene involving the Infant Christ. The present still-life thus includes a selection of vegetables that can be symbolically interpreted, without the central compositional scene of the original: pumpkins and sweetcorn are a symbol of resurrection and salvation; artichokes often appears on the Virgin's robe as part of a printed pattern ; whereas carrots and parsnips stand for poverty.

Historical context note

Frans Snyders (1579-1657) was born in Antwerp, and trained there by Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564/65-1637/38) and Hendrick van Balen (1575-1632). He became a member of the Antwerp Guild of St Luke in 1602 and travelled in Italy from 1608 to 1609. He specialised in animal paintings and still life. He collaborated most notably with Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) but also with Cornelis de Vos (ca.1584-1651), and Abraham Janssen (ca.1575-1632); as well as with Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678), Jan Boeckhorst (1605-1668) and Willeboirts Bosschaert (1614-1654). He had a very large studio and trained his brother-in-law, Paul de Vos (1591/95-1678), and Jan Fyt (1611-1661).

Still-life painting reached the height of its popularity in the Netherlands during the 17th century.The style set by Snyders's Rubensian banquet pieces was developed at Antwerp by the Dutchman Jan Davidsz. de Heem (1606-1684), and opulent baroque confections of fruit, flowers, and precious vessels became popular throughout Europe. Scholarly opinion is divided over the extent to which these works were envisaged asmemento mori, or vanitas subjects, reminding of human mortality and inviting meditation on the passage of time. Fruit and flower pieces retained their popularity until the 19th century.

Descriptive line

Oil on canvas, 'A Group of Vegetables', After Frans Snyders, late 18th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, pp. 103-04, cat. no. 117.
H. Robels, Frans Snyders. Stilleben- und Tiermaler 1579-1657, Munich, 1989, pp. 366-368, no. 272, ill.
E. Greindl, Les peintres flamands de nature morte au xviie siecle, 1956, pl. 37 ff.

Production Note

Formerly as Anonymous Flemish school

Materials

Oil paint; Canvas

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Still-life; Artichoke; Asparagus; Carrot; Parsnip; Sweetcorn; Pumpkin

Categories

Paintings; Eating

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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