Nicasius Bernaerts

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Two small dogs on the terrace of an Italianate garden

Nicasius Bernaerts (many name variations: Niçaise Beernaert, Nicasius Bernaerds, Nicasius Bernaert, Nicasius Beenaers, Monsù Nicasio, Nicasius)(1608, Antwerp – 1678, Paris) was a Flemish painter of animals, hunting pieces and flowers who worked in Paris in the latter part of his life.[1]


Bernaerts was a pupil of Frans Snyders in Antwerp. He travelled around France and worked in Paris for a number of years around 1643. He travelled through Italy before 1654. He became a master of the Guild of St. Luke in Antwerp in 1654.[2]

In 1659 he moved to Paris, where his works were received well.[1] He was admitted into the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris in 1663.[3] He was employed by the French king Louis XIV to make paintings of all the new animals added to his menagerie at Versailles. [4] In 1673 Bernaerts provided 46 studies of 52 species of animals. Some of these paintings were subsequently used to decorate the pavilion at the menagerie. He then entered the service of the royal administration and provided studies and animal paintings for the needs of the Gobelins Manufactory and royal real estate office (Garde-Meuble de la Couronne).[3]

He was later reduced to poverty as a result of alcoholism and died in poverty in 1678.[3]

The French animal painter Alexandre-François Desportes was his pupil.


Ganges deer, from the series on animals at the Versailles menagerie

The subjects of his pictures bear a great resemblance to those of his master Frans Snyders and ranged from animals and hunting pieces to still lifes. There are two paintings by him in the Louvre.[1]

The paintings of the animals of the menagerie at the Palace of Versailles are represented with a pedagogic objective. They are depicted in quiet poses, the body almost always in profile, the eye often turned to the viewer, as in portraits of human beings. Each is set against a landscape background of classical character. The viewer is thus able to better understand the anatomy of each animal.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Bryan,1886-9
  2. ^ Nicasius Bernaerts at the Netherlands Institute for Art History (Dutch)
  3. ^ a b c Nicasius (ou Nicaise) Bernaerts (Anvers 1620 - Paris 1678)
  4. ^ Morton, edited by Mary (2007). Oudry's Painted Menagerie: portraits of exotic animals in eighteenth-century France. Los Angeles, Calif.: Getty Museum. p. 70. ISBN 9780892368891. 
  5. ^ Cerf du Gange (Nicasius Bernaerts), musée de la vènerie de Senlis


This article incorporates text from the article "BERNAERD, Nicaise" in Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers by Michael Bryan, edited by Robert Edmund Graves and Sir Walter Armstrong, an 1886–1889 publication now in the public domain.