Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Frans Francken I (1542–1616)

Workshop of Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, Siegen 1577–1640 Antwerp)
Oil on wood
25 1/4 x 19 1/8 in. (64.1 x 48.6 cm)
Credit Line:
The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931
Accession Number:
Not on view
Leopold II, King of Belgium, Brussels (until 1909; sold to Kleinberger); [Kleinberger, Paris, 1909; sold to Ridder for Fr 150,000]; August de Ridder, Schönberg, Frankfurt (1909–d. 1911; his widow, Frau August de Ridder, 1911–at least 1913 [on loan to Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt]; cat., 1913, pl. 73; sale of his sequestered property, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, June 2, 1924, no. 59, for Fr 125,000 to Kleinberger); [Kleinberger, New York, 1924; sold to Friedsam]; Michael Friedsam, New York (1924–d. 1931)
New York. F. Kleinberger Galleries. "The Collection of Pictures of the Late Herr A. de Ridder," November 24–December 15, 1913, no. 73.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Michael Friedsam Collection," November 15, 1932–April 9, 1933, no catalogue.

F. M. "König Leopolds Verkäufe." Der Cicerone 1 (1909), pp. 333–34, as an insignificant work by Rubens.

W. Roberts. "The King of the Belgians' Collection of Old Masters." Connoisseur 24 (August 1909), pp. 206–7, ill., as by Rubens.

"Notes on Various Works of Art: Pictures Lately in the Collection of the King of the Belgians." Burlington Magazine 15 (July 1909), p. 238, ill. p. 242, as by Rubens, and as superior to the Montpellier version.

Wilhelm von Bode. The Collection of Pictures of the late Herr A. de Ridder in his Villa at Schönberg near Cronberg in the Taunus. Berlin, 1913, p. 17, pl. 73 [catalogue section unpaginated], attributes it to Rubens, calling the Montpellier version a replica.

R[udolf]. Oldenbourg. Die Flämische Malerei des XVII. Jahrhunderts. Berlin, 1922, p. 66, fig. 29, as by Van Dyck, and strongly influenced by Rubens.

Wilhelm R. Valentiner in The Michael Friedsam Collection. [completed 1928], p. 129, as by Rubens; dates it about 1620, and calls the Montpellier version a replica.

Bryson Burroughs and Harry B. Wehle. "The Michael Friedsam Collection: Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27, section 2 (November 1932), p. 42, no. 73, list it as by Rubens, but note that the attribution either to him or to Van Dyck remains in doubt.

Karla Langedijk. "Ein Bildnis Frans Franckens I., gemalt von Frans Pourbus dem Jüngeren, in den Uffizien zu Florenz." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 9 (November 1960), p. 259 n. 6, calls it a copy of the Montpellier picture; identifies the sitter as Frans Francken I.

Horst Vey. Die Zeichnungen Anton van Dycks. Brussels, 1962, text vol., p. 319, under no. 252.

Erik Larsen. L'opera completa di Van Dyck. Milan, 1980, vol. 2, p. 132, no. A64, ill. p. 131, calls it a nineteenth-century imitation of the original in Montpellier.

Walter A. Liedtke. Flemish Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1984, vol. 1, pp. 224–26; vol. 2, pl. 85, as a portrait of Frans Francken I; calls this picture and the oval version in the Musée Fabre, Montpellier, very probably good workshop replicas of a lost original by Rubens.

Ursula Härting. Frans Francken der Jüngere (1581–1642). Freren, Germany, 1989, pp. 21, 195 n. 125, as a copy after a lost original by Rubens.

Walter Liedtke. Letter to Ursula Härting. December 9, 1994, based on Hubert von Sonnenburg's analysis, suggests a tentative attribution to an unknown Antwerp master, perhaps following a lost original by Van Dyck.

Olivier Zeder in Tableaux flamands et hollandais du Musée Fabre de Montpellier. Exh. cat., Institut Néerlandais. Paris, 1998, pp. 171–72, fig. 46b, under no. 46.

Although not the founder, Frans Francken I was the key figure in the establishment of the Francken dynasty of painters in Antwerp. Frans, his father Nicolaes, and his brothers Hieronymus II and Ambrosius II were painters from Herenthals, Belgium. The family moved to Antwerp in the 1560s. The three brothers were pupils of Frans Floris; Frans entered Floris's studio in 1565. In 1567 he became a master in the painter's guild of Antwerp, and in 1588–89, served as dean. Frans painted altarpieces in the style of Frans Floris, but by 1600 had adopted a classicizing manner comparable to that of Otto van Veen. To Rubens, Van Dyck, and Jordaens, Francken would have been one of the elder statesmen of Flemish painting. The sitter's appearance is known from Van Dyck's etching (see M. Mauquoy-Hendrickx, L'Iconography d'Antoine van Dyck, Brussels, 1956, no. 6, wrongly called a portrait of Frans Francken II), and from a portrait painted by Frans Pourbus II in 1591. The etching corresponds very closely, in reverse, to the Museum's picture. While the picture is in Rubens's style of about 1615, it is very probably a good workshop replica of a lost portrait by Rubens. The same may be said of the oval version in the Musée Fabre, Montpellier. Some less impressive versions are also known.

The panel has been cradled.
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