From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Note: The locations of paintings in this article are their location as of 1911.
The Cabinet of an Art Collector, by Hieronymus Francken II, 1621

The Francken family was a family of artists the members of which were mainly active in Antwerp in the 16th and 17th centuries. Many of the members over three generations had the same first names Frans, Hieronymus and Ambrosius. While this may at the time have been effective as a marketing method by ensuring continuity of the family business, today's legacy is some confusion in the attribution of paintings, which often do not differ widely in style or execution between the various family members. The confusion is exacerbated by the signing practices of some family members: when Frans I's son Frans II reached his majority and began to sign paintings, Frans I started to add "the elder" to his signature to distinguish himself from his his son, who then signed his works as "the younger". This happened again in the next generation when Frans II's son Frans III reached his majority. Frans II then started to sign his works with the elder, while Frans III used Frans the younger.

Family tree[edit]

Nicolaes Francken 1515–1596
Hieronymus Francken I 1540–1610
Frans Francken I 1542–1616
Ambrosius Francken I 1544–1618
(Cornelius Francken)
Isabella Francken
Thomas Francken 1574–1625
Hieronymus Francken II 1578–1623
Frans Francken II 1581–1642
Ambrosius Francken II 1590–1632
Hans Francken 1581–after 1610
Frans Francken III 1607–1667
Hieronymus Francken III 1611–after 1661
Ambrosius Francken III 1614–1662
Constantijn Francken 1661–1717

Nicolaes Francken[edit]

The founder of the painting dynasty was Nicolaes Francken, also known as 'Nicolaes Francken van Herentals' as he was born c. 1520 in the town of Herentals before he moved to Antwerp c. 1580.[1] He was married to Lucia van de Broeck from Mechelen with whom he had five children. Nicolaes was active in Antwerp where he died in 1596. None of his works have survived.[2]

Sons of Nicolaes[edit]

Nicolaes Francken had three sons who became painters after training under their father and Frans Floris :

  • Hieronymus I (ca. 1540 –1610): he became a court painter in France.
  • Ambrosius I (1544 – 1618): he became known for his religious works and historical allegories painted in a late Mannerist style.

Sons of Frans I[edit]

The Parable of the Prodigal Son, by Frans Francken II, c. 1610

Frans I trained four sons in his profession:

  • Thomas Francken (1574 – 1625): he was active in Antwerp c. 1600 - 1610 and had numerous students.[3]
  • Hieronymus II (1578–1623): he trained under his father and was an important contributor to developments in Flemish genre painting.
  • Frans II (1581 – 6 May 1642): he trained under his father and became one of the most prominent members of the Francken family of artists. He played an important role in the development of Flemish art in the first half of the 17th century through his innovations in genre painting and introduction of new subject matter.
  • Ambrosius II (after 1581-1632): he trained under his father and was active in Antwerp.

Next generation[edit]

Frans III (1607–1667) is the last Frans Francken who enjoyed an artistic reputation. He entered the Antwerp guild in 1639 and died in Antwerp in 1667. His practice was chiefly confined to adding figures to the architectural or landscape pieces of other artists. Frans III often introduced staffage into the works of Pieter Neefs the Younger. In a Moses striking the Rock, dated 1654, of the Augsburg gallery, Frans Francken III signs D.O. (Den ouden) F. Franck.


  1. ^ Christa Grössinger, North-European panel paintings: catalogue of Netherlandish & German paintings before 1600 in English churches & colleges, Harvey Miller, 1992, p. 263
  2. ^ Nicolaes Francken at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (Dutch)
  3. ^ Thomas Francken at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (Dutch)