Snyders was born and died at Antwerp. He is recorded as a student of Pieter Brueghel the Younger in 1593, and subsequently received instruction from Hendrick van Balen, the first master of Van Dyck. He was a friend of Van Dyck who painted Snyders and his wife more than once (Frick Collection, Kassel etc.).
He became a master of the Antwerp painters guild in 1602. He visited Italy in 1608-9, visiting Rome, and working for Cardinal Borromeo in Milan. In 1611 he married Margaretha, the sister of Cornelis de Vos and Paul de Vos (another animal painter), in Antwerp.
He was appointed principal painter to the Archduke Albert of Austria, governor of the Low Countries, for whom he executed some of his finest works. One of these, a Stag-Hunt was presented to Philip III of Spain, who together with his successor Philip IV of Spain, commissioned the artist to paint several subjects of the chase, which are still preserved in Spain. He also worked for Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, when he became Governor.
According to the RKD he had many followers, including Nicasius Bernaerts, Juriaen Jacobsze, Jan Roos (I), Jan Fyt and Paul de Vos. Jan Fyt became his assistant from 1629. Peter van Boucle claimed that he was a pupil of Frans Snijders but there are no written sources available in Antwerp that support this contention. However, there are stylistic similarities in van Boucle's works which suggest that he worked in the circle of Frans Snijders
Snyders initially devoted himself to painting flowers, fruit and subjects of still life, but later turned to painting animals, and executed with the greatest skill and spirit hunting pieces and combats of wild animals. He was one of the earliest specialist animaliers.
His composition is rich and varied, his drawing correct and vigorous, his touch bold and thoroughly expressive of the different textures of furs and skins. His excellence in this department excited the admiration of Rubens, who frequently employed him to paint animals, fruit and still life in his own pictures, and he assisted Jacob Jordaens, Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert, Jan Janssens and other artists in a similar manner.
In the lion and boar hunts which bear the name of Snyders the hand of Rubens sometimes appears. He was one of the executors of Rubens's will.
- Ingamells, John, The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Pictures, Vol IV, Dutch and Flemish, Wallace Collection, 1992, ISBN 0-900785-37-3
- Gregory Martin, The Flemish School, 1600–1900, National Gallery Catalogues, 1970, National Gallery, London, ISBN 0-901791-02-4
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Media related to Frans Snyders at Wikimedia Commons
- Literature and works by Snyders at PubHist
- Paintings of Snyders
- Dutch and Flemish paintings from the Hermitage, an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on Frans Snyders (cat. no. 49)