Lucas Franchoys the Younger
(1616 – 1681)
Painted circa 1660s
Oil on canvas: 29 ¼ x 26 ½ in. (74 x 67.5 cm.)
Private collection, Switzerland, until 2016.
This portrait which once falsely bore the signature of Jacob van Loo, can be re-attributed to Lucas Franchoys the Younger on stylistic grounds. It even bears comparison to the artist’s self-portrait, known from an engraving by Coenrad Waumans.
Franchoys was born into a family of artists in the town of Malines (Mechelen) in Flanders. He received his artistic training from his father, Lucas Franchoys the Elder, before entering the studio of Peter Paul Rubens in Antwerp in the late 1630s. He was one of Rubens’ most talented followers, although his work ultimately shows the greater influence of Anthony van Dyck, particularly in his portraits, so often painted in a van Dyckian pose, with a distinct informality and flourish.
After Rubens’ death in 1640, Franchoys is thought to have spent some time working in Paris for the Prince de Condé. His work is certainly imbued with a French sensibility and colour palette – in our portrait the soft greys and sfumato brush-work is redolent of a French aesthetic. Franchoy’s first recorded commissions were received around the end of the 1640s, for various churches and monasteries in Tournai. Among these is an Annunciation in the cathedral at Tournai, dated 1649, and a Beheading of St. John the Baptist, painted in 1650 for the church of Saint-Quentin (destroyed during WWII).
Franchoys was back in Malines by 1654, and registered in the artist’s guild by 1655, serving as its dean in 1663. He remained in the city until his death, establishing a successful studio as a portrait and history painter. His most important patron was Alphonse de Bergues, the future archbishop of Malines, who commissioned several works for the local churches and monasteries. Among his most significant commissions was a triptych of scenes from the life of Saint Roch, painted between 1669 and 1672 for the church of Saint-Jean-l’Evangeliste et Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Malines, as well as two canvases of The Preaching of Saint Peter and The Preaching of Saint Paul for the same church, 1673. He collaborated with many contemporary painters including Lucas Achtschellinck, Jacques d'Arthois, Gregoire Beerings, Wilhelm Schubert van Ehrenberg, Egide Smeyers and Frans Snyders.
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