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Oil painting - A wreath of fruit, with birds, suspended from a cord
  • A wreath of fruit, with birds, suspended from a cord
    Snyders, Frans, born 1579 - died 1657
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A wreath of fruit, with birds, suspended from a cord

  • 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:

    9116-1863

  • 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 a wreath of fruits with birds twirling around, composed of a large selection of fruits among which cherries, strawberries, apples, grapes, pomegranate etc. It originally constitutes the upper part of the composition. This work has a companion piece (9115-1863) which is a copy of the right hand-side vertical festoon made of a group of intertwined vegetables including pumpkins, artichokes, asparagus, sweetcorn, carrots and parsnips. The discolouration between the two copies probably made at the same time is most likely due to a dirty yellow varnish on 9115-1863.

Physical description

A wreath of fruits suspended by blue ribbons from a cord, with birds twirling around.

Date

Late 18th century (painted)

Artist/maker

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

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Dimensions

Height: 63 cm approx., Width: 150 cm approx., :

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, in the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich (Inv. No.1793); identified by Charles Dumas and Fred G. Meijer (written communication, March 2010). Snyders' composition itself derives from a painting by Rubens executed around 1615-20, depicting the same group of putti, in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (Inv. No. 680). The same putti reappear in another painting, The Fruit Festoon, in the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich (Inv. No. 330), the result of a collaboration between Rubens, Adler von Wildens and Snyders, who executed the still-life element. Snyders' original painting therefore goes back to his earlier collaboration with Rubens and Wildens, thus dating it to after 1620. The present work depicts the upper part of the original composition: a wreath of fruit suspended by blue ribbons from a cord, around which birds are circling, originally located over the group of putti.

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. On each side stand two festoons of intertwined vegetables, the right-hand side part of which was copied independently (9115-1863). 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. In this painting, the still-life assembled in a wreath of fruit include symbolic elements, such as the cherries, which announce Christ's Passion; the figs alluding to the Cross and to Original Sin, as do the apples; the strawberries recall the Garden of heaven, and the pomegranate, the Resurrection. Birds are usually associated with Christ.

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 painting, 'A Wreath of Fruit, with Birds, Suspended from a Cord', 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, p. 104, cat. no. 118.
H. Robels, Frans Snyders. Stilleben- und Tiermaler 1579-1657, Munich, 1989, pp. 366-368, no. 272, ill.

Production Note

Formerly as Anonymous Flemish school

Materials

Oil paint; Canvas

Techniques

Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Fig; Birds; Fruit; Pomegranate; Chestnut; Still-life; Strawberries; Apples; Grapes; Cherries; Prune

Categories

Paintings

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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