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  • NameFrans Francken II
  • Sexmale
  • Nationality/DatesFlemish, born 1581, dead 1642
BiographyHistory painter and draughtsman. Frans Francken
II is the best known and most talented member of
an extended family of painters active at Antwerp from
the late 16th to the late 17th century. Frans’ grandfather,
Nicholas had moved to Antwerp with his family
in the early 1560s and there he taught three of his
sons, Hieronymus I, Frans I and Ambrosius. In the
next generation, all the sons of Frans I became artists,
including Frans II and his brothers, Thomas,
Hieronymus II and Ambrosius II. Frans II almost certainly
served an apprenticeship with his father, but
possibly he also studied with his uncle, Hieronymus I,
in Paris. In 1605 he became a master in the Antwerp
Guild of St. Luke, of which he later served as dean in
1616. In 1627 he became a member of the Antwerp
militia company “De oude handboog”. As head of a
large and productive workshop, Frans II was assisted
by his sons, who followed in their father’s footsteps,
but were weaker artists: Frans III, the best known
member of the youngest generation of the Francken
family, Hieronymus III, who specialized in religious
subjects, and Ambrosius III. Frans registered only one
apprentice with the guild, but, in addition to his own
sons, he certainly employed his three brothers and his
sons-in-law as well as other apprentices and must
have been absolved from registering them.
An extremely productive and imaginative artist,
Frans II was one of the leading Antwerp painters of
expressively rendered small-scale cabinet pictures
with historical, biblical, or mythological subjects, as
well as allegories. He also painted larger altarpieces
for churches at Antwerp. There are no dated paintings
before 1600. His stature as an artist is not so
much derived from his extensive output as from his
innovative subject matter. His depictions of luxuriously
decorated collectors’ cabinets and gallery interiors
painted after c. 1612, introduced a new genre of
painting that influenced a number of artists, including
Jan Brueghel II, Peter Paul Rubens and David
Teniers II, while his early paintings of “monkeys’
kitchens” – allegorical scenes of human vice, such as
smoking and gluttony, enacted by monkeys – set the
direction for Jan van Kessel as well as Teniers II.
Frans II frequently collaborated with other artists,
painting the staffage in landscapes by Abraham Govaerts,
Joos de Momper II and Tobias Verhaecht, in
architectural scenes by Bartholomeus van Bassen and
Peeter Neeffs I. He also collaborated with flower
painters, among them Jan Brueghel I and Jan
Brueghel II and Daniël Seghers. The fact that the
same Christian names were used by three generations
of painters in the Francken family, who used identical
signatures, has caused a great deal of confusion in
attributing their various works. Frans II used the
abbreviated signature “den jon F. Franck”, i.e. “the
younger”, until his father died in 1616. From 1621
onward, he often signed his work “d.o. Franck”, i.e.
“the elder”. Records show that Frans II painted many
works for the Antwerp art dealer Christian van
Immerzeel, who sold them to Spanish collectors. Van
Immerzeel’s lists of works for sale also mention
numerous studio replicas and copies of Frans’ works.
The Abduction of Helen of Troy
The Triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite
Allegory of Generosity
The Crossing of the Red Sea
St John the Baptist Preaching
Interior, called "Rubens' salon"