Introductory Comments

The Lonsdale Produce Market is a major new addition to the oeuvre of the great Flemish artist Frans Snyders (1579-1657), whose magnificent still- life and animal pictures, both large and cabinet-sized, impressed his contemporaries and established models for future generations. This market scene came to light recently, in 2011. Although it was in the collection of the earls of Lonsdale, apparently it had gone unremarked by connoisseurs, scholars, and tourists. The flamboyant first earl of Lonsdale James Lowther (1736-1802), known in his day as “wicked Jimmy,” a tempestuous character, but one who had a great love for the arts, is said to have bought the work, but it was never exhibited and knowledge of its existence disappeared. Currently, it is with Johnny van Haeften, the London art dealer.

The Market patently derives from two of the four market scenes (The Hermitage, St Petersburg) commissioned by the Habsburg official Jacques van Ophem. Van Ophem ordered a set of four markets for the antechamber to his office in his grand mansion in Brussels around 1618-1620. It consists of pictures of stalls where fish, flesh, fruit, and vegetables are portrayed in large-scale canvases, each with one type of provision. For The Lonsdale Market, Snyders fused the compositions of the produce scenes to form a new image, reproducing motifs verbatim. Yet differences can be observed, most notably in the figures.

These changes raise interesting questions, most importantly why did Snyders integrate two separate compositions to form a new scene? This is not a pastiche, but a thoughtfully contrived invention intended, I argue, for a specific purpose. Unlike a seigniorial still life where a lordship’s riches for personal use are represented, for instance, game, cattle, aquatic creatures, produce, and poultry, The Lonsdale Produce Market portrays garden commodities to be sold at urban markets; it is an idealized picture of a commercial enterprise. Clearly a central theme is the provisioning network established to provide city dwellers with fresh produce. Thus, rather than an individual who wished to show an estate’s self-sufficency, the so-called “unbought meal,” as it was coined in antiquity, The Lonsdale Market emphasizes the importance of an institution that secures these foodstuffs for the benefit of those unable to possess great estates where such goods were available on the lords’ farms and in fruit gardens.

In this essay, I speculate that a gardeners’ guild in the Spanish Netherlands commissioned the picture for its guild hall. Reasons are given in the text for such a solution. Guilds in the Southern Netherlands had chambers, even buildings, where the business of the guild was carried out, its documents preserved, and where noteworthy occasions were celebrated. What better way to show the ideal of agricultural cultivation carried out by members of a gardeners’ guild then to have a monumental painting portraying an almost encyclopedic depiction of the fruits of their labor.

Additionally, the role of the guild’s members as wholesalers and retailers is presented in the persons of the painting’s staffage. Although men were the public face of the guild in municipal governance, women constituted the labor force, the gardeners, many of the wholesalers and the majority of the retailers. The Lonsdale Produce Market depicts them enacting these duties. But I must emphasize that my reading is speculative, yet evidence does point in this direction.

Further notions pertaining to the imagery are also considered within the text, not least the idea that the riches of the land connote a “golden age,” an era of peace, well-being, health, and productivity. The scene is no less then a paean to the good governance of the Archdukes, whose wisdom had secured the Habsburg lands a respite, a time to revitalize, and restore the prosperity that it had once enoyed.

To introduce The Lonsdale Produce Market, I have written a prelude, a brief biography of Frans Snyders, that touches on the subjects he depicted as well as the issue of sets and series. This subject is of importance because the Lonsdale picture is derived from such a group, and it has been posited that picture of fish and flesh was a pendant to The Produce Market.



(December 27, 2011)

Revised 6 April, 2012


I. BIOGRAPHY, in four parts

Part 1: Family, apprenticeship, in Italy (1579- 1609)

A. Historical Considerations: The Southern Netherlands of “Loyal Provinces”: political, economic, and cultural factors


Snyders’s career after his return from Italy (1609- 1620s)

III. SNYDERS’S SUBJECTS: Still life and Animal Imagery during his career, including the seignorial still life and markets

A. Still Life, in general

1. The Seignorial Still Life

2. Markets

3. Late Still Lifes: 1640-1650s

B. Market Scenes

1. Antecedents: easel format

2. Snyders’s Market Pictures


Later Years: 1630s-1640


A. Commissioned paintings: single piece and sets

1. Jacques van Ophem and The Van Ophem Markets

2. The Van Ophem Markets

3. The produce pictures: fruit and vegetables

4. The Fruit Market staffage

5. The Vegetable Market

6. Staffage continued: the cutpurse or thief

VI. SETS and SERIES: 1630s-1640s

A. Animal Series: for the Marquis of Leganés and Philip IV of Spain

1. Aesopic fables

2. The Torre de la Parada

3. Hunting series

VII. BIOGRAPHY, part 4 (1640-1657)


A. Urban Markets: locations, functions, buildings

B. The Produce Market in Antwerp: location and commodities


Distribution of fruit and vegetables and guilds of gardeners

A. Fruit and Fruiterers

B. The van Ophem Vegetable Market

C. Produce distribution

D. The Antwerp gardeners’ guild

E. Garden lots that supplied produce to Antwerp

F. Altar of the Guild of Gardeners’ in Antwerp Cathedral


A. Denys Alsloot’s painting of the 1615 Brussels Ommegang

B. The Gardeners’ Hall in London: Worcester House, guild tokens, and the guild’s coat of arms


A. Provenance

B. The Painters: Frans Sndyers and workshop, and collaboration with Cornelis de Vos and Jan Wildens

C. The Lonsdale Produce Market: in general and comparisons

D. Vegetarianism: The healthy diet

E. Sir John Lowther and Vegetarianism at Whitehaven

F. The cuisine of vegetables and fruit

XII. COMPARISON: The Lonsdale Produce Market and The Van Ophem Vegetable and Fruit Markets

A. Two into One: The Lonsdale Produce Market

B. The Fictive Aspects of The Lonsdale Produce Market


A. The modello

B. The lost modello



A. Identification of Fruit in The Lonsdale Produce Market

B. Identification of the Vegetables in The Lonsdale Produce Market

Addendum : Identification of fruit in The Lonsdale Produce Market





Artist: Frans Snyders and workshop, with collaboration of Cornelis de Vos and Jan Wildens

Dimensions: 82 x 130 in.

Support: canvas, 3 bolts wide [?]

Date: ca.1620

Provenance: Sir James Lowther, 1st earl of Lonsdale ( August 1736—24 May 1802).


Frans Snyders

Frans Snyders (November 11, 1579—August 19, 1657) was born in Antwerp in the province of Brabant in the Southern Netherlands, on November 11, 1579; seventy-eight years later he died there, on August 19, 1657.

Snyders is counted among the great Flemish baroque artists; his still-life and animal imagery contributed significantly to the fame and enrichment of his birthplace. Recognized internationally and nationally, his patrons and clients included, among others, sovereigns, princes, grandees, nobility, ambassadors, high-ranking government officials, as well as wealthy bourgeoisie. Snyders’s work was esteemed by fellow artists too; among his colleagues and friends were the elite of the Antwerp art scene: Rubens, van Dyck, Jan Breughel the Elder, and Jan Wildens. Snyders was the region’s most influential and innovative master in the genres of large-scale still-life and animal imagery, the specialties wherein he excelled. He is the first artist to create easel pictures of animal scenes depicting poultry yards, representations of Aesopic animal fables, and animal genre, that is, depictions of pets—dogs, cats, and monkeys, and occasional squirrels and birds- in domestic settings where their actions betray their latent feral proclivities. Large-scale bird concerts were among his specialties, too.

He re-fashioned earlier south Netherlandish traditions and adapted them to suit the mentalities and social and political circumstances of his day. And his innovations significantly influenced his contemporaries and had lasting appeal well into the nineteenth century, as Sir Edwin Henry Landseer’s paintings and the decorative arts attest. Tapestry designs too were profoundly affected by his imagery, specifically in hunting depictions, which became the rage in France in the eighteenth century and in many German-speaking lands. In sum, Snyders’s influence was pervasive in the seventeenth century and continued to affect art in future centuries. His tactile facture was tactile, his colors rich and brilliant with a preference for local as opposed to ones tempered by atmosphere or the vagaries of light and shadow, particularly in the first half of his career; yet subtlety is evident in the depiction of individual motifs or when

clusters are juxtaposed. Motifs and details are pictured with knowledge and precision, yet never without verve, as, for instance, when a fleck of white paint is brushed on a grape to indicate light reflected: the effect is perceptual not mechanical.

Fruit and vegetables appeal to the senses of touch, taste, and smell, and they have the same scientific accuracy, as do animals in his imagery.

His art was both painterly and economical, but never timid. His skill in handling paint merged with impressive compositional designs where a myriad of motifs were choreographed on a plausible, clearly designed stage. Though the imagery appealed to the senses, a rational or scientific sensibility is evident, always. Beasts, no matter how tame, nonetheless have a penchant to behave in accord with creaturely instincts, but they also express sentiments, and even reason.

When people are included, a range of gestures and expressions is convincingly portrayed and these accord with narrative and context. Although Snyders did not paint all the figures in his pictures, his drawings attest to his exceptional skill in portraying staffage. In his paintings, actions are dignified, and joyful expressions are restrained; only rarely do libidinal impulses erupt, but for the most part such behavior is constrained by decorum.

I. BIOGRAPHY: in four parts

Part 1. Family, apprenticeship, specialization, sojourn in Italy (1579-1609).

Frans Snyders’s parents, Jan Snyders and Maria Ghysbrechts, had seven children. They were solid citizens of Antwerp, where they owned centrally located real estate: an inn and a facility that catered weddings. The properties were situated at a major commercial thoroughfare in the heart of Antwerp.

Snyders’s mother may have been raised in a family where painting was practiced, while his father, according to lore, was a painter in France before settling in Antwerp. The Antwerp inn or tavern, known as “The Painted House,” had the right to sell wine retail and also had cooking facilities. Jan Snyders also dealt in picture frames, a fairly lucrative business. Among other patrons, painters, apparently frequented the inn; the best known of these is Frans Floris, the wealthy and famous Antwerp artist who, according to tradition, spent considerable sums there, but the inn was not yet owned by the Snyders’s family in Floris’s lifetime. Perhaps these associations, familial and business, led to the decision to train Frans as a painter. He was apprenticed to Pieter Brueghel the Younger at fourteen, and gained his mastership in the Antwerp painter’s Guild of St Luke, in 1602. It is not improbable that he attended a school before his apprenticeship. Two of his brothers, Cornelis and Michiel (Michael) followed in his path. Cornelis became a master in 1601, Michiel in 1610. The former was recorded as a painter, the latter as an engraver. But Michiel expanded his business, practicing painting and dealing art as well as selling wine retail. Adriaen chose to become an innkeeper; his business was located at the city’s southern gate, the Jorispoort; no evidence links him to art. It should also be mentioned that Snyders’s sister Clara married the noted goldsmith Rombaut de Rasiéres. This connection was indeed important since Rombaut’s father, also a goldsmith, held the prestigious office of “master general of the mint of Brabant.” Another sister, Maria, became a beguine in Antwerp; Frans Snyders named her his general heir.

No obvious association exists between the work of Pieter Breughel the Younger and Frans Snyders. Breughel’s active shop manufactured paintings based on his famous father’s pictures and in these repetitions or variants Snyders’s hand cannot be recognized; but Snyders certainly acquired mastery of his craft under the tutelage of Brueghel. In addition, he may also have acquired one practice that was to become important in his career: the process of replication. Brueghel had developed techniques to make numerous copies after the masterpieces of his father Pieter Bruegel the Elder, using drawn cartoons. It is certainly plausible that Sndyers learned his master’s techniques, but though he may not have used identical practices, nonetheless Snyders’s numerous repetitions point to a creative adaptation of a noteworthy feature of his master’s shop.

In addition to learning the elements of studio practice and perfecting them, Snyder’s master was important in his development in another respect: he facilitated his contact with other members of the Brueghel family, most notably Jan Brueghel the Elder. This brilliant productive artist became Snyders’s trusted friend and mentor, as documents prove. Brueghel explains in a letter that when all others deserted him during “his time of misfortune,” Snyders alone remained steadfast in his devotion, “visiting him at his home, where he served and consoled him.” We do not know the difficulties Jan Brueghel experienced, but the sincerity of his remarks cannot be doubted.

This art circle also included Hendrik van Balen, who is referred to in early biographies as Sndyers’s “teacher.” Evidence does not exist proving study with van Balen, a figure painter and classicist, but the two men apparently shared similar values and ideas, though they did not work in the same style and their subject matter differed. Yet ties of collaboration existed. Van Balen provided staffage for Jan Brueghel the Elder, whose share consisted in the depiction of landscape settings, and flora and fauna. Though Snyders himself did not work together with van Balen ( documents and surviving pieces do not support a connection), Snyders’s friendship with van Balen is confirmed by Willem van Haecht’s portraits of the two men who are depicted conversing in the 1628 cabinet picture The Art Gallery of Cornelis van der Geest by Willem van Haecht (1593-1637). (For the importance of Snyders in the art world of Antwerp, and the south Netherlands as well, it is exceptionally important to underscore the fact that his picture of Monkeys Despoiling Fine Foods and Luxurious Tableware is about to be presented to the Archdukes who are seated in van der Haecht’s chamber where his art collection in Antwerp was displayed. The first painting shown to the sovereigns is a Madonna and Child by Quentin Massys (1466/66-1530), counted as the founder of the “School of Antwerp;” the second is Snyders’s picture, which is in the center of the composition and held by the collector’s commanding housekeeper.)

It should be emphasized that Snyders’s schooling in art did not include training in the depiction of produce and animals. Although Jan Brueghel the Elder is known for exquisite representations of flora and fauna, his facture is notably different from Snyders’s, and his specialty, small-scale cabinet pieces did not allow for large robust motifs. The art form that does compare to Snyders’s expertise is tapestry design. Although no evidence has been found to support a connection between the tapestry imagery and Snyders’s, nonetheless it is a topic worth pursuing, because it does account for Sndyers’s mastery of such subjects in large scale.

An alternative possibility is that he may have had contact with painters who specialized in large-scale produce and animal scenes, the “followers,” of Pieter Aertsen (1508-1575) and his nephew Joachim Beuckelaer (1533-1573). But many of these painters were not active in the southern Netherlands; a number had moved to the northern provinces; others to German cities. Jan Baptist Saive (1540-1624) remained in the south and had court connections. In 1597 he was paid for four market scenes that had been commissioned by Archduke Ernest, governor of the Spanish Netherlands for a brief period before the installation of the archdukes in 1599. Yet the quality of his work is decidedly inferior to Snyders, and it is questionable that the very gifted younger man could have received significant training from Saive.

After Snyders gained his mastership in 1602, little is known about his whereabouts and his activity in the following six years. In brief, documentation is lacking or none has been found establishing his whereabouts until September 1608. Possibly he remained in Antwerp painting still life, as several works indubitably by his hand suggest; however, these are not signed or dated. But letters do prove that he was in Italy by September 1608, first in Rome, and in Milan the following month.

The date of his arrival in Italy is undocumented and the length of his sojourn likewise is unknown. It is quite likely that he met Rubens in Rome where the Flemish artist was living until his departure for Flanders in late October 1608. The two men may well have been acquainted in Antwerp, since Rubens was still present there in 1600. And they may have met again in Rome where Rubens resided from November 1605 until late October 1608. Snyders’s presence in Rome is noted in a letter written by Jan Brueghel the Elder. He recommended Frans Snyders to the cardinal of Milan Frederico Borromeo, a powerful prelate, art lover, and brother of Charles Borromeo (1538-1584), who was canonized in 1610. For several months Snyders resided in Milan under Borromeo’s protection. During his stay there, Jan Brueghel the Elder maintained a correspondence with the cardinal and the cardinal’s secretary wherein he lauded Snyders, and made an exceptional request: he asked the cardinal to permit Sndyers to copy “rarities,” including a Titian in the Borromeo collection. He explained his request as follows: “to keep them [the copies] in his home for life to remember his honor, the Cardinal ... and to remember the skill of Italian painters.”

Rubens, upon his return to Antwerp by the end of 1608, was involved in this correspondence. In fact he penned some of the letters. Evidently both artists wanted to assist Sndyers and perhaps gain patronage for him. It is not known whether Snyders was permitted to carry out Brueghel’s request and no pictures by Snyders have been recognized in the cardinal’s collection, although Borromeo did have a penchant for still lifes. Some years later when Borromeo showed interest in acquiring still lifes by Snyders, Rubens informed the cardinal that prices for Snyders’s work had risen as demand increased, and that his art had improved as well.

Snyders left Milan in spring 1609, without informing his host; this behavior was disrespectful, and caused dismay in the cardinal’s household. Snyders’s hasty departure no doubt was caused by news that a secure Truce for twelve years between Spain and the United Provinces had been formalized on April 9, 1609. Hostilities in the region had raged for decades, and the riches of the Low Countries had been depleted. Antwerp, the sixteenth-century metropolis, financial center, and entrepot for diverse corporate entities, had declined, with a significant loss of population, commerce, wealth and status. Amsterdam was the rising star and commerce shifted to the northern provinces by the early seventeenth century. In addition, the productive rural lands of the south had suffered from decades of warfare; farms had been laid waste, farmers were murdered or fled, and crops were ruined and cattle killed. The land was no longer safe to farm as wolves roamed the countryside and roads were beset by brigands who seized goods and harmed travelers.

A. Historical Considerations

The Southern Netherlands or “Loyal Provinces” : political, economic, and cultural factors.

The Truce promised the Spanish Netherlands an era of peace, prosperity, and renewal. It was governed by the Habsburg Archdukes Albert and Isabella, who took possession of the new Habsburg satellite land in 1599. Their sovereignty was limited, however. For instance, they were not permitted to engage in international diplomacy without approval from Spain nor were they able to prevent Spain from placing its troops on their land.

Once installed, the couple issued numerous directives to insure that the Truce was effective. The archdukes also turned their attention to other matters. As devout Roman Catholics, they made the southern provinces a bastion of the Catholic or Counter- Reformation in northern Europe, in keeping with their own faith and the wishes of Isabella’s father, King Philip II of Spain, who had bequeathed the lands to his favorite daughter Isabella upon her union with her cousin. The archdukes, as they were titled, spent considerable sums to propagate the Roman Catholic faith. Churches were rebuilt and refurbished with modern baroque altarpieces, new religious structures were erected, cults of saints were encouraged, and support for religious orders was handsome.

In keeping with their aim to create a state with international standing, the archdukes repaired the medieval palace of the dukes of Brabant in Brussels, which was the center of court life in the new state, enlarging the building to accommodate the households of both sovereigns. Old and new were merged seamlessly to create a structure where the aura of the “antique” Burgundian court was integrated with modern facilities. Interior spaces were enlarged and reappointed, while the exterior was upgraded with new parks and gardens and modern waterworks. The archdukes aimed to present themselves as sovereigns representative of the new court culture of the seventeenth century, yet the court’s modernity did not extinguish the past; the palace deliberately recalled the eminence of the archdukes’ Flemish forebears, whose luster cast a luminous glow on the present. This remembrance of earlier glories helped the archdukes demonstrate that they were the natural regional heirs of the land.

Grandees and court nobles also undertook remodeling of their palaces and mansions for the sake of prestige and power, as did court officials. Remodeling and refurbishing according to current fashion made Brussels even more attractive than previously; monies too were expended on rural estates, the lordships from whence income and status derived.

The ducal palace was a diplomatic center, a meeting place for ambassadors, agents, and emissaries from other courts, throughout Europe; areas suited to intrigues and private conversations, window seats and the like facilitated private conversations and even spying. Conveniently situated between England, France, Germany, and the United Provinces, the Brussels’ court, close to Spa, the town famous for its cures which was visited by persons of all political and religious persuasions who spent time there and who also acquired its waters in certified Spa bottles in Brussels, was a famous unofficial diplomatic center.

Cultural activities also contributed to the fame of Brussels. Music thrived at this court, whose composers, musicians, and singers were counted among the most outstanding in Europe. Courtly dancing was encouraged and players entertained the nobility and in the streets there were popular entertainers too, some who traveled from foreign lands, such as England. Chivalric sports were cultivated in the castle’s tiltyard and also in the Great Square of Brussels. There, spectacles with all the refinements of baroque stage-craft were enacted for city folk, notable visitors and the court itself. These entertainments encoded and propagandized the sovereigns’ policies. In keeping with the desire of the Archdukes, especially Isabella, to be seen as the rightful heirs of the dukes of Burgundy, folk ceremonies were recreated, and the archdukes’ presence was highlighted by visibility and ceremonial décor that embellished these occasions. Annual processions held within cities were lavish and pilgrimages showed the court on foot performing their devotions.

The archdukes also fostered industries using resources from their lands, such as marble and black stone, whose desirability was widespread. A yellow marble mined in the eastern provinces decorated piers in St Peter’s, Rome, and blackstone was a ubiquitous material for altars and funerary monuments throughout the region and in neighboring lands. Brick manufacture also flourished. Flax was grown in Flanders and was used to produce high-quality linen whose desirability reached well beyond local borders. Other commodities the archdukes protected with strict regulations was the production of imitation Venetian glass, musical instruments, and art cabinets of rare woods, and other luxury materials; in the parlance of the day “luxury trades.” These also included fine gem cutting and goldsmith work. In this connection it should be noted that the craft of scientific instruments for navigation and measurement, including telescopes, were regional specialties. So far the clothing industry has not been mentioned, but here too the southern Netherlands were known for the production of ribbons and lace and desirable fabrics. Exotic dyes, red from the cochineal insect of the Americas, and indigo from an Indian plant, reached Antwerp from distant lands in the Habsburg empire. And in a world where governments sponsored productive trades, such as mining and new modes of agriculture, they also prided themselves on contributing to the pursuit of knowledge. Print culture, long established in the Low Countries, particularly in the south, was one of the main sources of erudite texts. Antwerp continued to be a center of book production and prints, as it had in the sixteenth century, but texts were primarily religious and censorship was practiced. Classical texts were available but secular and current philosophical works were imported. Fear of heresy was experienced at all levels, even in grade schools. Hence books were largely religious or classical. But some poetry and emblematic literature was quite popular, as were lives of saints, which modeled moral and devotional behavior.

Municipal officials and office holders in the Habsburg government, educated mainly in Latin schools, were versed in the classics, and provided a readership for these publications. To foster higher education among the local citizenry who became professionals in law, theology, and the sciences, the archdukes sought out eminent scholars to fill positions at the famous regional Universities of Louvain or Douais; while they aimed to insure that governance was handled by a well-educated professional class, they also wanted to attract foreign students to enhance the reputation of their universities. But speculative thought that challenged basic tenets of Christian dogma were discouraged. Yet international contacts, for instance Rubens’s friendship with the nobleman Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc (1580-1637), scholar, scientist, and lawyer, gave him access to current debates in the new sciences, those predicated on observation, fact, experiment and explanatory theory. Nor should it be forgotten that Rubens’s ambassadorial mission in England in 1629 must have brought him into contact with the physician William Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation of blood. Harvey, who ministered to Charles I, received generous study material for his research on generation. The knowledge Rubens gained in England, and elsewhere in his travels, may well have influenced his contemplation of the microcosm (man) and the macrocosm (the cosmos or universe). In turn, he may have shared his thoughts with his close friends at home, one of whom may well have been Frans Snyders.

So far urban centers have been emphasized and some of the industries and manufactures supported by the archdukes. Attention turns now to the rural areas.

During decades of warfare, the countryside had become insecure and unproductive, as remarked earlier. To insure security, the archdukes promulgated regulations to provide safety for the farmers and artisans who resided on farms, in villages, and in suburbs. Wolves were actively hunted and brigands brought to justice. With the Twelve Year Truce, farming could be productive once again and commerce conducted without fear, as travelers were able to pass through the land transporting goods to trade regionally or to carry beyond the borders of the south Netherlands without molestation.

In speaking of the countryside, it should not be forgotten that these lands were seignorial, that is they were the property of feudal lords, be the lord a member of a family, religious institution, town or city, whose income derived largely from produce and livestock grown on their properties, and from local taxes, and, of course from whatever trees, mineral rights, natural resources or tolls and similar rights they possessed. The lords who gained court favor also received income from gifts in the form of special privileges or licenses bestowed on them by the archdukes.

But these lords and nobles lacked their chief rural pastime: hunting. It had been interrupted, indeed destroyed by decades of warfare. Game killed by soldiers and brigands, deprived the nobility of their favorite quarry of deer and boars. Now, with peace re- established they once again returned to their country estates, when not attending court. Hunting of course was recognized as a peacetime preparation for warfare, where the lord exercised and maintained martial skills as he or she hunted prey. Thus a priority was to restore cynegetic sports; The archdukes issued lengthy regulations to insure that this entertainment could be enjoyed with well-stocked forests and warrens. Large- scale paintings by Rubens propagandized the return of hunting as a noble pastime. Sndyers was soon to follow him, taking his friend’s inventions and refashioning them to focus principally on animal combat, the fight that occurred before hunters arrived on the scene of the quarry’s death.

II. BIOGRAPHY, part 2:

Snyders’s career after his return from Italy,


The account of Snyders’s life presented above took a detour after the painter’s departure from Milan; the most important reason for re-routing was to explain why he was so eager to return to his homeland. Snyders receded into the background in the preceding pages and historical conditions were brought to the fore. This discontinuous account allowed for discussion of circumstances in the Spanish Netherlands that directly or indirectly impinge on The Londsdale Produce Market. Without knowledge of various events that “frame” the picture, its importance would be overlooked, indeed misunderstood.

Here, then, I return to Snyders’s biography after his return to Antwerp, having set the stage for him to enter as a participant in the art world as it was constituted in 1609. The first action he took was to establish a shop, and by the end of 1609 he had enrolled his first apprentice, one of only three throughout his lengthy career. His second apprentice was inscribed in the guild ledger in 1616, and the third, Nicasius Bernaerts, in 1633. The latter, who moved to France and worked for the French court later in his career, was the only guild student to achieve recognition in his own right. But Snyders was aided by other artists, as will be explained below.

At the age of thirty-two, a man’s customary age for nuptial union in his segment of society, Frans

Snyders married Margriete de Vos of Hulst, on October 23, 1611. The de Vos family had three sons who became painters in Antwerp: Jan, Cornelis ( 1585- 1651), and Paul (1595-1678). Little is known about Jan, but Cornelis and Paul are among the outstanding painters of Flemish art. Cornelis specialized in portraiture and narrative scenes, while Paul, sixteen years Snyders’s junior, became a specialist in animal and still life painting. His manner and his subjects are derived from Snyders’s work, indeed mimic it, but his animals are more delicate and often decorative, although he could also paint raging animal battles showing dogs tossed upside down in the air. His knowledge of animal anatomy is rather superficial and he had a tendency towards the decorative.

Since Snyders did not have any children, he turned to his in-laws and his nephews for assistance, as his second will attests, proved in 1627. Paul de Vos and Snyders’s nephew Hendrik de Rasiéres received the contents of Snyders’s shop: brushes, pigments, easels and grindstones, as well as books and prints. It is significant that de Vos was bequeathed the large easel because it indicates that he was working on large-scale pictures two or three canvas bolts wide. Pictures of this size are well known in de Vos’s oeuvre as they are in Snyders’s. De Rasiéres is an enigmatic figure; no signed pieces by him have been discovered and his name does not appear in the St Luke Guild’s ledgers. Yet he must have been an active figure in the workshop.

Snyders’s workshop was located at Korte Gasthusistraat, where the newlyweds took up residence. For the next decade they lived there until they moved to the propitiously named house “De Fortuyne, a prestigious property on Keizerstraat adjacent to the building where Nicolaas Rockox lived, mayor of Antwerp many times over. Rockox exercised considerable political power in regional politics and was known, too, for his scholarship and as an art lover. The Keizerstraat house was Snyders’s residence for the remainder of his life. Incidentally his brother-in-law Cornelis de Vos moved into the Gasthuis property after Snyders’s departure.

A notarial inventory of his residence has not yet been found, but four testaments (1613, 1626, 1641, 1655) trace the growth of Snyders’s prosperity during

his lifetime. At the time of his death he had amassed a considerable fortune and he had large painting collection; an inventory of pictures that were likely to sell well at auction is known. Not only did he have originals and copies of his own pictures, but he also owned important work by contemporaries, not surprisingly by Rubens, with whom he collaborated shortly after his return from Italy. In his collection were three portraits by Jan Lievens, who had an international reputation, lived in Antwerp for some years, and is best known for his association with Rembrandt when the two young men lived in Leiden. In addition, Sndyers possessed “antiquities.” This word had at least two principal meanings in the seventeenth century: on the one hand, it referred to works by earlier masters who were regarded as founders of painting, such as Albrecht Dürer, and on the other hand, it referred to classical art; Snyders owned copies of ancient sculpture. These rarities were kept in a back room apart from the residential quarters. Some subjects suggest that he may have inclined to Neo-Stoicism, a popular philosophy of his day, subscribed to by Rubens, Rockox and many learned scholars and statesmen of his day. He collaborated on the spectacular painting now in the royal collection in England, which depicts Pythagoras instructing his followers on the virtues of vegetarianism. Rubens of course designed the work, and painted the staffage; Snyders portrayed the flora and fauna.

As early as 1609, almost directly after his return from Italy, Snyders’s known collaboration with Rubens began, first on The Recognition of Philopoemen (The Prado, Madrid), then, by 1611 on Prometheus Bound (first phase) and The Head of Medusa (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna). By the beginning of the second decade of the seventeenth century, Snyders was an artistic personality in his own right. The Archdukes acquired two works by him in this period, indeed, one in particular is noteworthy because it is representative of the archetype for the seigniorial still life, a term I have introduced that is more precise then “larder” or “kitchen,” the conventional terms used in current historical writing.


Still-Life and Animal Imagery over the course of his career, including the seignorial-still life and markets.

A. Still Life, in general

In the period from 1610-1620, and extending into

the following decade Snyders continued to depict various still life types. Small pictures on panel or other supports filled with fruits, choice vegetables, small game animals, and rare tableware, including, among other objects, porcelain bowls and plates, gilded tazzas, glassware in the Venetian style and other rarities. Monkeys, felines and living birds disport themselves among these inanimate motifs, giving the scene added interest. Though not recognized as seignorial, such pictures are delightful beautiful variants of the seignorial type. Of course not every person who owned such a work was in fact a noble or a feudal landowner, but the aspirations to live that lifestyle fueled the popularity for such pieces.

1. The Seignorial Still Life

Snyders creates a new still life category Seignorial refers to a way of life, to the feudal system that supported the structure of the Spanish Netherlands and almost all European societies except the Republics of Venice, and the United Provinces. Initially, Sndyers appears to have experimented with various formats, but by 1614 or 1615 he had developed an oblong arrangement that he used throughout the rest of his career. (Of course there are exceptions to every rule, and in his later years he experimented with alternate designs.) The paradigmatic type derives from Rubens’s Recognition of Philopoemen. In that work, Rubens rationalized space, setting up stages to organize the quantities of foodstuff and the figures to design a coherent, legible format, where narrative and still life have clarity: an argument in a sense is constructed, showing the history’s two components in a cogent fashion. This arrangement was a reaction to mannerist complexity which, though ingenious, caused confusion in “reading” the picture. Rubens’s brilliant solution showed Snyders the way to proceed. And so he did in the course of following decades.

2. Markets

Snyders’s market scenes, on the other hand, have imposing dimensions, similar to the large format seignorial still life and like them are spectacles of abundance and variety. But a crucial distinction exists between the two types: the seignorial still life portrays goods that are unbought, foodstuffs that originate

from properties held by the lordship, whereas market scenes are commercial subjects; every item is for sale.

In some, game is portrayed and these include all varieties, from the wild boar to small game birds; others depict aquatic animals, fish, sweet and salt, crustaceans and mammals as well as turtles and dried cod. Produce is yet a third type of market subject where all manner of greens are displayed, both fruit and vegetables.

Classical staffage is unusual; for the most part the marketers wear contemporary attire. As I emphasize below, market imagery is associated with tetradic systems: the four elements, the four seasons, the four humors, and also the five senses even though the latter is not tetradic, nonetheless it is often associated with the others.

It is probable that some of Snyders’s market scenes were painted for public and semi-public buildings –as proposed here, The Lonsdale Produce Market--or locations where financial matters were transacted. Possibly some sixteenth-century market

scenes, in northern European art, were installed in such locations. It has been suggested that Pieter Aertsen’s Country Market Stall (1551) was placed in the Butcher’s Hall in Antwerp, but consensus among scholars has not been reached in this matter, and a lack of documentation leaves this an open issue. Given the absence of factual proof, sixteenth-century market pictures are believed to have been in private collections. Moreover, many sixteenth-century market pictures are combined with narratives depicting religious events in the lives of Jesus and Mary. Thus they appear to unite religious instruction and moral teaching. Moral allusions also were embedded in these works as well, among them gluttony and sexuality both licit and illicit. It is not clear at present whether confessional issues were addressed too, that is disputes between Protestants and Roman Catholics, although the two sides disagreed about the use and symbolism of particular foodstuffs.

Snyders’s market pictures do not continue the overt religious component of his immediate predecessors. The staffage in his pictures are persons associated with the preparation, vending and purchasing of food stuffs.

3. Late Still Lifes: 1640s-1650s

Simultaneous with Snyders market pictures, the seigniorial still life emerged from diverse but related subjects, kitchens for instance; This type, Snyders’s invention, grew ever more important. Concurrent with the growth of Snyders’s still-life pictures, his shop increasingly produced animal subjects. These suited his clientele’s taste and eventually the game piece supplanted depictions of foodstuffs in the cooking and storage areas of great houses as these areas were “unseemly and indecorous;” game above all other foodstuffs signified the elite status of lordship, whose prerogative entitled lords to hunt on their properties, fish in their waterways, course in their fields and forests, set traps in warrens, and gather creatures along seacoasts or net aquatic animals in proximate salt water-. By the second half of the seventeenth century, the game piece was preferred in all formats. Of course produce continued to be painted, but floral subjects became ever more popular as society transformed to a more consciously aesthetic model associated with the aristocratization of the nobility.

B. Market Scenes

1. Antecedents: Easel Format

The depiction of markets in easel format arose in the mid-sixteenth century, in the Low Countries; Pieter Aertsen is credited with its invention and Joachim Beuckelaer, his nephew, for expanding the subject. Beuckelaer sometimes excluded religious narrative altogether which was often present in Aertsen’s work. Both men died at about the same time, Beuckelaer in 1574 in Antwerp, Aertsen in 1575, Amsterdam. These pictures engendered a following that extended even into Italy, where the Campi family in Cremona and the

Bassani family active in northeastern Italy, in Bassano and Venice fashioned their own versions of the northern subjects. Even the Carracci family, known for religious counter-reformation subjects and classical mythology painted meat markets and many-figured market scenes situated in villages or in a rural setting . But it was in the Low Countries that the Aertsen/Beuckelaer tradition truly flourished. Provisions were subsumed into tetradic or near tetradic series, following a trend in graphic arts and also in Beuckelaer’s paintings. Foodstuffs were organized in sets which alluded to the senses, the seasons, and the elements. Sndyers’s market scenes are tied to this northern local tradition.

2. Snyders’s Market Pictures

Snyders’s first surviving major market

(Chicago), signed and dated 1614, depicts an abundant variety of goods, flesh, game in particular, and produce in an urban open-air setting. In preparation for the picture, Snyders’s designed a modello; it is carried out in pen, brown ink and wash on white paper. The drawing is typical for Snyders’s working process. He did not prepare chalk drawings or paint modelli in oil before carrying out his painting. His brilliant penwork and vivacious tonal washes have various functions: to effect dimension, to define form, and to create chiaroscuro flashes of light and shadow that animate the scene, in keeping with “baroque” taste and fashion. These unique drawings are superb and unhesitatingly certain. (I am writing a study on Snyders drawings, where more information will be available.) The process whereby he enlarged these carefully contrived designs is unknown at present. Only one surviving drawing has squaring (Morgan Library). Precisely how Snyders enlarged these modest-sized compositional drawings to very large-scale pictures is an important subject for study. Possibly Snyders’s experience in Pieter Breughel the Younger’s shop, where replication was commonplace, provided him with a working model, as yet unrecognized.

A second problem associated with his work is the lack of information regarding his knowledge and depiction of the appearance of produce and animals. Except for a bequest in 1657 to his relative Hendrik de Rasiers of “all his paintings on paper of Italian fruit”, no drawings or oil sketches of individual motifs exist. (It should be noted that the phrasing ‘the Italian fruit drawings’ is ambiguous: were the drawings painted by Snyders’s himself after actual fruit or drawings by Snyders after Italian pictures of fruit or possibly some other source?) Only when these drawings are recognized will a firm decision be reached. And that may never occur because they may have been destroyed in one historical calamity or another. Snyders’s brilliant depiction of animals and produce do suggest detailed and closely observed studies made from nature or from other fine works of art. But these workshop items do not exist. Large-scale painted copies of entire pictures do exist, but individual motifs are not isolated; to conceptualize how such copies could function as studio modelli is difficult to imagine; it may well be best to reject them in this capacity. The single piece that may suit this function is a boar’s head in the English royal collection.


Later Years: 1630s-1640

Snyders’s penchant for antiquity has been noted

above; the classical plaster busts of Hercules and Marcus Aurelius, were acquired in 1616 and at the same time paintings, one that may well be of Faustina, wife of Marcus Aurelius. The couple was associated with Neo—Stoicism, a philosophy widespread in government circles and among the educated elite in the seventeenth century. Perhaps Snyders subscribed to this philosophy; Rubens and Nicolaas Rockox were adherents of Neo-Stoicism, as was Rubens’s brother who was educated by Justus Lipsius, the most articulate proponent of this philosophy.

That Snyders was considered one of Antwerp’s famous citizens who moved among the elite in learned circles is also confirmed by his induction into the guild of Romanists in 1619, a twenty-five member confraternity of men who had resided in Rome. His acceptance into the exclusive confraternity strongly argues for a stay in Rome of more than a month or two. Other members of the confraternity included the painters Jan Breughel the Elder, Hendrik van Balen, and Rubens, but the majority of members were officials of standing. In 1628, Snyders served as dean of the Confraternity, a costly honor.

Although Sndyers did not travel to Italy again, as far as we know, records do exist for trips to the “enemy country,” which meant to the United Provinces or the “contribution lands,” areas that paid protection money to the Dutch for safe travel and trade in contested regions between the provinces in the north and south. A registry kept by the Antwerp government records the names of individuals who applied for passports for these areas, and until 1640, the occupations of applicants were designated as well. Altogether Snyders’s name appears eleven times, he may have traveled even more frequently, since names were not always registered, according to one scholar. Snyders’s trips took place for a decade, between 1636 and 1645. In 1643, he applied and received passports for three trips: in May, October, and December. Many of the trips occurred in early spring, but in 1645 he traveled as late as January. A signed and dated painting places him in Breda in 1646, but a passport was not issued to Snyders in that year although the city was in Dutch hands.

It is probable that Snyders made his way to the United Provinces to sell art and inniate or conclude commissions. As early as 1611, he is known to the Dutch. Among his patrons were the prince of Orange, Frederick Henry (1584-1647), wealthy merchants and

art collectors such as Louis de Geer and Nicolaes Sohier, who owned a version of The Head of Medusa, a collaborative piece by Rubens and Snyders that was in Sohier’s Amsterdam residence by 1631, as Constantijn Huyghens’ diary attests. Sohier also owned Sndyers’s Three Ravens (whereabouts unknown). And, not surprisingly, painters who specialized in related subjects, for instance Melchior Hondecoeter, possessed six works by the Flemish master.


Although documented commissions are few, it can

be inferred that Snyders signed formal contracts and agreements witnessed by notaries. None have been located in archives, however. Certainly some of Sndyers’s pictures sold on the open market either directly from his shop or through intermediaries. These may have been small or large pieces. Supports for smaller pictures were panels manufactured from local oak, whereas the large commanding ones are on canvas. Two or three bolts of cloth were sewn together on the obverse, the seams covered by layers of paint on the front. Snyders’s commissions were individual pictures or sets or series. Examples of the former include the archdukes’s paintings or the collaborative Fish Market painted for the duke of Buckingham, George Villiers. This splendid canvas represents a stunning catch of aquatic creatures that have been assembled at a stand on a wharf to the left and so great and diverse their number that many are placed beneath the board. Living bivalves and univalves, with the creatures that inhabit their protective shells, are displayed on a separate table in the foreground adding even further interest to this extraordinary collection, a museum of the living and the dead of the watery element. On the compositional right, a number of figures attired in classical garments observe the purchase of goods This group has been attributed to Anthony Dyck, an attribution that has not been challenged. Several men are mocking a transaction where a purple robed man buys a single fish from the fishmonger. The narrative subject of this picture has not yet been identified satisfactorily; is the narrative based on a religious text, history, mythology or some other source, as yet unrecognized?

A. Commissioned paintings: single and sets

Other commissioned pictures that date from this period include one ordered by the Municipality of Antwerp for the Town Hall. The painting was installed as a mantelpiece in the small ceremonial chamber known as the Champijncamer. It is lost and only an eighteenth- century description pictures its content: a still life with game, a lobster, and produce with a young woman engaging a parrot that pecks at a plum held by the maiden.

1. Jacques van Ophem and The “Van Ophem Markets

The first major documented set of pictures by Snyders is the Van Ophem Markets. Elsewhere, I have demonstrated that these pictures were ordered by the Habsburg official, Jacques van Ophem, a tax collector (receiver) in Antwerp from 1610 until 1615; but his term in Antwerp did not preclude an even more lucrative and prestigious appointment in Brussels. In 1614 , he was granted the position of “ receiver general of the king’s domain in the quarter of Brussels;” until his death in 1647, he occupied that office. His administrative skills were recognized by the Habsburgs, as many additional offices he held attest; these included receiver or tax collector for windfalls (chablis) in the royal forest of Soignes; receiver of court works in Brussels; and the king’s councilor and clerk for the royal domain and finances in the Low Countries (Pays-Bas). The latter appointment included, among other duties, presiding over a court that oversaw cases involving the collection of royal and or domainal revenues and rents in kind, and annual fixed payments, such as rents for the use of food stalls. The court met at the Broodhuys, situated at the Great Square (Grand Place) opposite the municipal town hall; in essence the Broodhuys represented the duke of

Brabant’s administrative presence in the governance of the southern provinces of België.

From each office he acquired, van Ophem’s fortune increased. His affluence was manifested by the impressive mansion that he built in Brussels, which had a tower, a large garden behind the street façade and additional structures enclosing the garden area.

(Incidentally, the street where it was located is the rue Neuve. This is not surprising. One of the archdukes’ chief aims for the renewal of their lands, was economic growth as explained earlier. Among the measures they encouraged were canalization, new food markets, and the support of real estate ventures; the rue Neuve and its environs was among the sections of Brussels that was developed with the aid of archducal intervention.)

Jacques van Ophem had considerable interest in art, as an inventory recorded after his death proves. An extensive collection decorated his new mansion and he willingly advanced funds to the Habsburg government for the purchase of art; his union in his second marriage

to the caretaker of tapestries for the archdukes is indicative not only of his association with other noteworthy court officials but it likely shows an appreciation for the visual arts. Another sign of his connection with the arts is the bequest Rubens’s family made to him of the master’s painting of St Cecilia. Further documents show his involvement in the visual arts directly or indirectly, as for instance, when he advanced money through funds from his government offices to cart works of art by Rubens and by Snyders through France to the court of Philip IV, king of Spain.

2. The Van Ophem Markets (formerly known as the St Petersburg Markets)

By 1618, van Ophem commissioned Sndyers to paint four market scenes for the Brussels mansion on the rue Neuve. That van Ophem selected Snyders to paint the set wherein animals and produce are crucial is not surprising. The two men most likely were in contact when van Ophem was the tax collector in Antwerp. Van

Ophem surely was aware of Snyders’s skills and his increasing fame as well as his connections with Rubens and other luminaries in the Antwerp art scene.

a. General Comments about the set: location and arrangement in Van Ophem’s mansion in Brussels; The set consisting of four canvases represent three types of foodstuffs: meat, fish, and produce. Two portray the latter: vegetables in one; the other, fruit. The market scenes were not installed in the mansion’s living quarters. Rather they were placed in an oblong chamber that was directly outside van Ophem’s office. Whether they were aligned on a single wall facing windows or on three walls is uncertain because the structure no longer exists. The inventory, however, does indicate the set’s sequence; it began with the meat market, followed by the two produce markets and ended with aquatic creatures. Staffage appears in each. Except for the meat market that has but one person, the vendor, the others have two. Whereas the fish stall shows two men working independently and not interacting, the produce scenes portray two women each, one young, the other mature.

3. The Produce Pictures: Fruit and Vegetables

The setting of the Fruit Market is the least explicit. Fruit is displayed on a board to the right, while on the left a door opens outwards from the substantial building. There is little depth and its environs are not depicted; no buildings or greenery indicate where the structure is located. The setting may well be urban with a substantial building suited to a city, but its function cannot be surmised from the structural details depicted. A balance hangs on the wall, but it is not ready for use: the arm is not straight and the pans are set within each other.

4. The Fruit Market Staffage

The older woman is attired in dark clothes relieved only by a white collared shirt and a white cap. She proffers a plate of apricots or peaches held in a porcelain platter to a stylishly dressed younger woman. Though not courtly, her garments are luxurious for her station in society: the haute bourgeoisie. Physically, her most noteworthy feature is her abdomen; its bulge indicates pregnancy. From the platter offered to her she has selected one fruit. Various dialogs can be imagined between them, but which one is correct is difficult to determine. Is the vendor offering advice on eating, on heath, on conception, on fecundity or some other subject altogether? Perhaps the woman’s shopping basket is an important clue to this question. The lid of the basket is open, revealing un-husked hazelnuts or filberts, a nut said to symbolize fertility, marriage and maternity. Additionally, it was associated with the Trinity and the cosmos, according to the English mystic Julian of Norwich (1342-1416), who also stressed the notion that God existed even in the smallest objects of creation, such as in a hazelnut encased in its husk. In essence, then, is Snyders not arguing that within marriage pleasures of the flesh can be enjoyed because their purpose is procreation and that marriage is the antidote to The Fall? Fruit that caused humankind’s tribulations is now a remedy for those ills. The marketer’s behavior is amusingly contrasted with the unruly monkey and the squirrel on the nearby basket. The monkey’s desire for instant gratification is contrasted to the squirrel who grasps the basket’s rim and watches the antics of the simian. Squirrels generally signify prudence, a virtue that may well be applicable here. The creature does not waste its goods; it saves them, “squirreling them away”.

5. The Vegetable Market

The Vegetable Market is depicted in an extensive landscape, a suburb, but at some distance from a city. Vegetable fields extend from the city to the foreground where the vegetable stall is located. Between the city and beyond its garden lots, the walls and entrance to a seignory protrude into the fields. Its presence is spatially important, as it marks the middle distance, separating the city on the horizon from the foreground. A large well situated in front of the estate’s entrance provides water both for the seignory and for farmers working on surrounding lands. That the structure is an estate is indicated by a dovecote at its entrance, a convenience for its owners but also a prestigious sign of extensive land ownership.

In the foreground, three figures and a stall are placed to the right of the canvas, while a great basket loaded with vegetables occupies the left side of the composition. The vegetables that could not fit into the basket are gathered in no particular order at the basket’s base. The variegated forms, textures and colors are set forth clearly by the muted tones of the distant gardens. This image of agricultural munificence is framed by a horse on the left and on the right a wagon. The wagon with its impressive sturdy wheel (the companion wheel is hidden by the cart’s bulk), is partially obscured by the stall’s stone wall, has been packed for a trip. Canvas covers the goods, but a few items protrude from beneath the cloth. Whereas the horse should be attached to the cart, it stands apart, and is not supervised, which permits it to follow its appetite. Blinkered it may be, but that does not prevent it from eating the fresh kale leaves of the “prize-winning” specimen directly before it. As in The Fruit Market, vigilance is not exercised. But the horse does not have rational faculties, or they are easily subverted when tempted by natural desire. On the other hand, the boy who kneels beside the young woman, unseen by her and the vendor, possesses a soul and therefore possesses reason, a capacity that endows him with the faculty to distinguish right and wrong, good and evil. Not only does this illustrate the dilemma of mankind which inclines to sinfulness, but it may refer to commercial dealing, where vendors were often accused of cheating. This was a constant problem in cities, where small retailers, especially women, walked the streets with goods in their baskets. Not under surveillance as in a public space, the girls or women were prey to men or even prostituted themselves. Perhaps the cutpurse refers to the latter circumstance. It is not the loss of money that Snyders portrays directly, but, by implication, chastity. The maiden has selected items that have aphrodisiacal properties or imply sexual yearning. She thus places her spiritual being at risk.

6. Staffage continued: The Cutpurse or Thief

The thief or cutpurse has a variety of readings and appears in works in early modern European art in depictions of cardsharps and gypsies, especially among followers of Caravaggio in Italy and France. In the Low Countries, in sixteenth-century art, cutpurses populate taverns and brothels where the Prodigal Son squanders his inheritance. But their presence in rural settings is uncommon. One appears in a painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder with an explanatory text or adage: “He [who] is too concerned with worldly things cannot escape the treacherousness of the world.” This adage, adapted to the circumstances, is appropriate; but it is one of many readings that a viewer might have considered when studying the painting.

What makes this reading plausible are the items in the woman’s basket. Unlike the marketer in the Fruit Market, whose basket is loaded with husked filberts, this woman’s basket has an artichoke, asparaguses, and radishes or similar root vegetables protruding from the basket. She points towards additional root vegetables heaped on the vendor’s table board; pale in hue, they are slender and lengthy, perhaps carrots, parsnips, or a related vegetable that is no longer among items stocked in stores today. What they share in common with the asparagus is a phallic form. The gardener raises her right hand, a gesture that can be read as surprise or as indicating sufficiency or as a warning of restraint.

VI. SETS AND SERIES:1630s-1640s

A. Animal Series: for the Marquis of Leganés and

King Philip IV of Spain

In this period Snyders’s subject matter changes. Although still-life continues to be painted, series or sets of pictures focus increasingly on animals.

1. Aesopic Fables

A series of eight or ten pictures, probably aesopic fable subjects were paid for by the Estates General of the southern provinces in 1634. These pictures were intended to please one of Snyders’s most important patrons, the marquis of Leganés. Some in the States meeting argued that the gift was “too poor”, but Leganés let it be known that this gift would be well received. The marquis was one Snyders’s most active clients, and he apparently delighted in their humor as well as their artistry, innovation, indeed all the qualities singled out above.; aesopic fables were taught to children at the beginning of their education and a taste for them never lessened. These subjects taught moral lessons but they encoded political sentiments as well. The pictures replaced those that Philip IV had taken from Leganés’s collection it is believed. So both the

Spanish king and his favorite were significant in furthering Snyders’s career

2. Torre de la Parada

Additional series painted by Snyders for the Spanish Habsburgs date from the 1630s. The largest number, about sixty, were intended for favorite hunting lodge of Philip IV, the Torre de la Parada, located outside Madrid. In addition to Snyders, Rubens contributed an Ovidian cycle for the lodge; but Spanish painter’s were included in the decoration too. Velazquez, for instance portrayed philosophers. Snyders’s share for the Torre de la Parada series included hunting scenes, and Aesopic fables. When Sndyers’s did not produce his part of the décor with greater alacrity, Philip IV sent his brother, the regent of the Netherlands, the Cardinal –Infante Ferdinande, to Snyders’s Antwerp residence to find out why he was delayed. The king’s brother writing to Philip IV explained that the artist was rather phlegmatic and also that Sndyers’s explained that his share in the

decoration was greater than all the other arists involved. In fact, Snyders collaborated on the project with his brother-in-law, Paul de Vos. A number of signed pictures by Paul de Vos have been traced to the hunting lodge.

3. Hunting Series

After completing the hunting lodge décor, a second commission form the Philip IV was given to Rubens and Snyders in June 1639. Eighteen paintings were specified, and, among these, at least eight hunts, consisting of contemporary and mythological subjects. These were to be placed in the summer quarters of Madrid’s royal palace. The paintings were sent on May 20, 1640, ten days before Rubens died. Although Philip IV owned still lifes by Sndyers, he did not place an order for a series showing market subjects, a point worth noting.

VII. BIOGRAPHY, pt 4 (1640-1657)

1640 is a decisive year in Snyders’s life. At sixty- one years, an age considered elderly in the seventeenth century, Snyders experienced the loss of two people whose lives were entwined with: his life-long friend and collaborator Paul Peter Rubens and his neighbor Nicolas Rockox. Shortly before the death of Rubens, Snyders, together with the landscapist Jan Wildens, and Jacob Moermans, one of Rubens’s students, an art dealer, and print publisher, were summoned to witness Rubens’s testament and to appraise his paintings. The master, whose “magical” hands had become paralyzed, died on May 30th, 1640. Some six months later Rockox called Snyders to witness a codicil to his will, and died on December 12, 1640. In the following year the regent of the Spanish Netherlands, The Cardinal Infante Ferdinand died on November 9, and Anthony van Dyck on December 9, 1641.

Snyders’s loses were not only in the world of art and politics, but they occurred within Snyders’s family. Margriete de Vos, his spouse of thirty-six years died on

September 2, 1641, and four years later his brother-in- law Cornelis de Vos died. Cornelis collaborated with Snyders and most likely painted the staffage in the Lonsdale Produce Market.

Snyders’s workshop continued to function, although he must have relied increasingly on workshop assistants in his last decade. Illness dogged his later years as notarial documents attest. When he died in 1657, August 19th, age seventy-eight, he was buried beside his wife in the nearby Minderbroeder Church. Sndyers’s died a very wealthy man. His monies and his goods were distributed among his large family. His sister Maria was named general heir; she took charge of settling the estate, including the sale of his grand home on the Keizerstraat a few weeks after his death. The family reserved for itself two pictures: Anthony van Dyck’s portraits of 1619-1620 of Frans Snyders and Margriete de Vos. If there were others, none are mentioned. Today, those glorious portraits are on view at the Frick Collection in New York City.


A. Urban Markets: their locations, functions, and buildings

Historians have written extensively on urban markets: their locations; regulations issued to impose order in markets; sanitation; fixed measures (weights and measures, quantities) to be used in transactions; sanctions; and so forth. In the Renaissance and early modern period, architects and architectural theorists became increasingly concerned with urban beauty and functionality. And rulers engaged this issue too. Probably the most important figure in this regard in the early modern period was King Henry IV of France. His urban planning in Paris was exemplary and in large part carried out. Zoning became increasingly important and cities were admired for the orderly display of goods. As Evelyn Welch has written: “ it was a matter of pride

when a city could be read as if it were a set of chapters in en encyclopedia. ”But the ideal bumped up against the real; few cities could be built from scratch and rarely did a government have sufficient funds to devote to radical changes. The aim, then, was to insure access to goods in a safe and orderly manner. The Archdukes Albert and Isabella contributed to this aim in the lands they governed; to the best of their ability, depending on local sentiments and funding, they modernized cities or if they did not build commercial structures, citizens stepped forward and undertook construction themselves. Their reward for good citizenship was recognition by the Archdukes, political recognition, and social prestige.

Markets, incidentally should be differentiated from shops and guild buildings. Shops were located in individual buildings, and goods were displayed directly to the public on shutters that dropped forward into the street to form shelves when opened or within interior spaces visible from street level. Such shops were clustered together along streets where similar goods were sold. Thus cloth might be available in one section of a city and shoes in another. Also goods of high value, for instance gems and the like, might be displayed in an area of high visibility where travelers could marvel at the items and be encouraged to purchase them. In Antwerp, a “mall” (the Pand) existed for the exhibition and sale of tapestries, a luxury product that required extensive space. Smaller items were exhibited at the Bourse, a financial structure that included retail areas.

With regard to food, meat and fish, in particular, these were vended in separate structures. In Brabant, in the southern Netherlands, the rights for the sale of both types of goods were owned by the dukes of Brabant, a title that the regents of the Spanish Netherlands held indirectly from the king of Spain. Individuals rented stalls, and it was not uncommon for the stall to remain within a family for several generations. Unlike meat markets, fish-markets were not roofed buildings. In Antwerp, a citizen financed a new fish market shortly after the Truce was signed. The arcaded structure was constructed around a square located proximate to the Scheldt River. The older fish market, directly outside the new market on the quai remained in place. It had wooden tables roofed with canopies. Here too, stalls were rented, and money was collected for the dukes of Brabant.

B. The Produce Market in Antwerp: location and commodities

Markets in general were open-air and unroofed areas within a city where various goods or in some instances only one commodity was sold. Though in English the term implies a specific geometric form, in fact they varied considerably, some were oblong, others, triangular, and so forth. Their enclosing boundaries were formed by surrounding buildings, but not necessarily. For reasons of sanitation flesh and fish markets were placed near a flowing waterway, if possible. Each had stalls set within a building by the seventeenth century. But produce did not have a permanent structure; in Antwerp it was marketed in two locations: the quai where foreign boats docked and unloaded supplies, and at the Meir. Since the former only pertains to shipments from other lands, the Meir alone will be considered. The Meir, was a busy commercial thoroughfare in Antwerp.

A picture of the Meir Market painted by an unidentified artist ca. 1610-1615 (Brussels, Royal Museum of Fine Arts) , shows the location of the produce market. Two-sided covered stalls, four in all, display great baskets loaded with produce. The stalls facing the houses are reserved for vegetables; on the opposite side fruit is vended. It is difficult to discern exactly what types of fruit are sold. Most likely they are apples and pears, as form and color suggest. The individual vegetables are more easily recognizable due to shape and color: cabbage, kale, carrots, parsnips, and other goods are displayed. All baskets are filled to the brim. The vendors are women. Those who sell vegetables are seated on stolid wooden chairs facing into the stall. The fruit vendors, on the other hand, stand with the stall below a canopy. Only the costume of one fruit vendor is clearly visible: she wears a red bodice and a long red skirt, a white ruff and a white cap. On the other hand, the clothing of the vegetable dealers is depicted more clearly; they are attired in ankle-length red skirts, black long-sleeved bodices, aprons that are mainly white and a white ruff. Tall straw hats or white scarves cover their heads. Clients are principally single women, although a few couples and single men are represented as well.

Three types of shoppers are depicted. Single men attired in black, with white collars or ruffs; men accompanying their wives or a female relative or single women, most likely servants. These well-to-do city residents wear dark colored clothes; the women, a full-length mantle that provides cover for the head on which is attached a “knob.” The shoppers carry small baskets looped over one arm. If buying from a vegetable stand, the shopper’s basket is loaded with produce. Most likely the same is true for the fruit shoppers, but the baskets are not depicted with the same precision.

In this painting’s foreground greater space is allotted to other types of transactions. The goods for sale are cheese, eggs, small fowl, live poultry and brew, milk or other drinks. Perhaps pancakes are for sale as well. Apples fill one large basket in the right foreground and on the left a similar basket is depicted, loaded with what appear to be nuts. A young woman uses a balance to measure the amount a boy has requested.

Victuals are displayed on small round portable tables; the vendors are women for the most part and appear to be farmers; their female clients wear long black mantles, that indicate bourgeois status.

At the market, which is not reserved for victuals but additionally provides space for a variety of goods and services, among them gypsies telling fortunes, a

barber surgeon, a man selling hats, and a table where a distilled drink is being shown to men; all shoppers, even those that appear to be dressed in fashionable courtly garments, commingle without incident despite the considerable numbers of buyers and sellers. But to insure the maintenance of order, an official wearing a tall hat, insignia, and holding a staff with a white cloth attached to it, keeps a sharp eye out for unruliness.

It is notable that the produce sellers are set apart from the farming folk in the foreground. The picture emphasizes the distinction between the two groups: the women selling produce belong to a guild, the gardeners’ guild, whereas the farmers or suburban villagers who have brought goods to market are not organized; they are independent dealers and sell small quantities of foodstuffs. All of the women appear to be healthy, well-featured, and neatly garbed; however, the men who display game birds are rude in feature and dress underscoring their lusty rusticity.


Distribution of fruit and vegetables and guilds of gardeners

In comparison to other countries, Italy and England for instance, little has been written about the produce guilds in the southern Netherlands, their structure, administration, and the merchandise sold. As noted earlier, the guild comprised three units: vegetable farmers and vendors of vegetables, fruiterers, and basket makers. Given the paucity of published studies, the following discussion is suggestive rather than definitive. (Study of this subject is of great importance and should be undertaken.)

Vegetables were grown in three locations: on the farms of lordships or seignories; in plots or gardens located no farther then three miles from a city’s walls; third, within a city’s walls, in undeveloped sections, as for instance, in Brussels, in the area where Jacques van Ophem erected his mansion. Women farmed vegetables, as the Lonsdale Produce Market illustrates.

The gardening plots are flat and expansive and within sight of the city. Provisions from these areas were collected, sorted, and then stacked onto carts. The Lonsdale picture appears to depict this system precisely. Regulations also attest the role of women in farming vegetables in the Gardeners Guild.

A sixteenth witness to agriculture in the southern Netherlands is Lodovico Guiccciardi (1521-1589), a Florentine merchant who resided in Antwerp. Two years prior to his death, he published a description of the Low Countries in Antwerp. This text identifies the fruit but not the vegetables grown in the region. He writes that a great variety fruit are grown: peaches, pears, apples, apricots, cherries, plums, medlars, and mulberries. To this list he adds various nuts: chestnuts, hazel nuts, and walnuts. He particularly praises the area’s apples and pears for their taste and variety, and also because they keep for a year. As for the other fruit, they lack the flavor of ones cultivated in the Mediterranean, since they do not have conditions conducive to lengthy ripening in a warm, sunny climate. Equally, figs, other fruit—unnamed-- and almonds do not do well, and “olives even less so.” But the region has access to fine citrus fruit—oranges and lemons-- pomegranates and similar “noble fruit.” Which are shipped at all seasons from Spain and Portugal via the sea. Guicciardini also adds important information about grapes. These are nurtured in towns and villages, but not in the countryside because the country’s climate is not suited to their growth. However, in eastern regions, in Luxembourg and Liège grapes vines are planted, but the grapes are small and do not reach full maturity; hence, wine made from them is coarse.

Guicciardini’s emphasis on pears and apples is noteworthy, for these are the fruits that are depicted at the stalls of produce retailers in Antwerp in the picture referred to above.

A. Fruit and Fruiterers

Until further documentation is discovered, fruiterers are identified here as men. One part of their business was devoted to the import and export of fruit. The other part concerned the rental of fruit trees and speculation on the crop that might be anticipated from specific trees. When the tree bore fruit, it was harvested, the fruit was gathered for sale, and then handed over to retailers, who mainly were women.

These women probably together with their husbands rented stalls in a specific market, such as the one pictured on the Meir, discussed earlier, or they walked through the city retailing small quantities of rare or desirable items which they carried in baskets of various sorts. The types of fruit collected from trees included, apples, apricots, cherries, figs, huckleberries, medlars, pears, peaches, plums, pomegranates, and quinces; nuts too were in their purview, particularly chestnuts, hazelnuts (filberts), and walnuts. As for citrons of various kinds, these would have been under the purview of the fruiterers, and imported, as the northern climate did not favor their cultivation. Portugal and Spain supplied them via sea transport. Raisins and currants were also imported into Antwerp; Ostend, a seacost town, was also a center for the import of raisins and currants. No documentation yet published indicates that fruiterers were responsible for shrub fruit-- currants, gooseberries, and mulberries, or for fruit growing on vines-- grapes, cantaloupes and watermelons. These may have been tended by specialists among the gardeners. Actually, many berries were luxury items and were grown in gardens of princes, patricians, and holders of high offices. These too were a challenge for local growers and importation must have figured in their marketing. Finally, strawberries should be mentioned, since they appear so frequently in Snyders’s still-life pictures. Strawberries were homegrown and specialists cared for them, since their “shelf life” was so very brief. A region proximate to Brussels was a source for strawberries, which ripened in late June, around St John’s Day.

B. The Van Ophem Vegetable Market

The grey-haired woman at the stall is a gardener: ruddy-hued skin indicates her habitual exposure to the sun and her unadorned rustic clothing reveals her occupation. Though past the bloom of youth, she is still fertile as her full belly and her loosened stays reveal. She has gathered goods which she cultivated and those grown by other gardeners to amplify her supplies in preparation for carting them to the city. She appears to be a wholesaler who has a variety of vegetables for sale. From these, a retailer will select items that will be carried to market in the loaded cart . Once in the city at the produce market, the goods will be sorted into baskets where customers will be able to inspect them and make their selection.

The attractive younger woman, a fair-skinned blond who recalls Rubensian types, is modestly but attractively attired. She wears a red bodice, a dark- grey ankle-length skirt, and a white apron that matches her rolled up sleeves, and her collar. To protect her delicate skin she wears a broad-brimmed straw hat embellished with a ribbon. Turned up at the back, the hat reveals flaxen braided hair. This costume is encountered in a considerable number of paintings dating circa 1620 and earlier. A good example is Jacob Jordaens’s 1621-1622 Family Portrait (Madrid, Prado), where the maidservant where comparable garb and the woman in the foreground on the leftmost side of the painting, in Jan Brueghel the Elder’s Landscape with a Self Portrait and a Village Kermesse (1614; Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum; Ertz 1979, p. 223, cat 278). In Sndyers’s picture, she is undoubtedly the retailer responsible for carting the goods to the city market. But this may not be her only task. She may also sell goods at a stall as well as retailing items in the city in small quantities to customers encountered on streets. Another possibility is that she is a servant from an urban household who has been sent out to purchase goods from a suburban stall, but this suggestion is not likely. For, by the time she returned to the city, the goods would have wilted. Equally unlikely is the notion that she is a servant from the nearby seignory who has gone to the wholesaler’s stall to acquire goods, since the seignory ideally was supposed to be self-sufficient, providing “the unbought meal” to the lord of the domaine. (See Koslow, Frans Snyders for “unbought meal.”)

If the produce came from a seignory, which often was at a greater distance from an urban center, then suburban garden lots, carts were used to haul goods to the city or village market. Jan Siberechts (1627-1703) frequently depicts the carts en route, but he also shows farms where carts are being prepared and gardeners readying baskets filled with produce for the journey to a city, as, for example, in the paintings of 1662 and 1664 in the Museum of Fine Arts, Brussels. (Brussels, Museum of Fine Arts, 1662 [184] and 1664 [inv nr. 3966]). These farmers may have sold off their goods to a wholesaler outside of the city or they may

have had a location within the urban market which they rented and there displayed their goods for sale.

C. Produce distribution system

Produce came from two sources: local women and some men who farmed vegetables and fruit, and farmers who brought their goods to the city or village or who sold them to wholesalers who then used various distribution systems to sell the commodities. In Antwerp, a gardener’s Guild existed as early as the 1431; it comprised vegetable and fruit vendors and basket makers. In Antwerp, and in Brussels, the largest number of guild members were women, married, widowed or unmarried. The latter were maidens who were permitted to be guild members as long as they paid dues weekly. In all instances they had to be respectable and lead blameless lives.

D. The Antwerp Gardeners’ Guild

The Antwerp Gardener’s Guild existed as early as the 1431; it united fruiterers, gardeners (vegetable growers and vendors), and basket weavers. In Antwerp, and in Brussels, the largest number of guild members was women. Married or widowed, they were regarded as “respectable,” and paid guild dues. The term “apple wives” (“appelwijven”) was aptly coined for a segment of market gardeners (Voet 281). Young unmarried women were admitted too, as long as they paid dues on a weekly basis (15th century regulation). The guild’s distribution network consisted of wholesalers and retailers as well as merchants who transported produce to other regions or lands. Speculators also played a role in this network. The gardeners’ guild maintained an altar in Antwerp Cathedral, and, most likely, a hall where administrative matters were addressed and festive meals celebrated. Moreover, the guild played an important role in Antwerp’s municipal government. Until 1610, it was one of three “privileged” guilds (gardeners, shippers, and mercers) that participated in the Monday Council. (Mercers or merchants represented additional guilds, including butchers and fishmongers, the two other sources of food.) The privileged guilds were permanent; the other guilds had a rotating representative system. This council, which met daily before noon, was charged with overseeing Antwerp’s financial and economic matters, its social problems, policing, indeed, whatever concerned Antwerp’s daily life (van Acker, 21). The council consisted of two social groups: guilds, represented by their deans, and by office holders, that is mayors, aldermen, tax collectors, and sheriffs. The latter set policy, while the former gave input but did not have voting rights. Their participation was particularly important for voicing concerns about regulations governing guilds and markets (Voet 87).

E. Garden lots that supplied produce outside Antwerp and in nearby regions.

Two garden areas developed outside of the walls of Antwerp: on the southern and eastern sides. Exiting through the southern St. George Gate (Sint Jorispoort) Gate, were extensive garden lots, which the entrepreneur Gilbert van Schoonbeke had developed in the sixteenth century. Fifty-six lots out-numbered forty-one on the eastern side of the city. Gardeners did not own these, but rented them. The goods grown in these areas were carted or carried into the city and sold at a central market; in seventeenth-century Antwerp at the Grote Markt (Large Market), and in Brussels at the Grande Place (the Large Square). Friday and Saturday were market days in Antwerp. Stalls were set up by permission of the city’s tax collector (rentmeester) and their location was determined by lottery. The stalls were aligned in rows and also back-to-back, in accordance with municipal regulations. The picture mentioned earlier, shows this arrangement and also places the location of the stalls at the Meir, the city’s broad street. (See above, pp. .)

But stalls sometimes were erected illegally, especially at bridges, and the city government was involved in having these taken down and removed. A smaller produce market was allowed near the St George Gate (Sint Jorispoort), because this was situated at the primary route into the city from its garden lots. Its existence is attested in the sixteenth century.

Waasland was a significant source for luxury fruit and also for vegetables for Antwerp and probably for Brussels.

F. Altar of the Guild of Gardeners in Antwerp Cathedral

Initially, the Antwerp gardeners’s altar was situated at an altar dedicated to St Agatha in Antwerp cathedral, but a fire in 1533 caused the guild to relocate to the altar of Our Lady on the Branch, where the miracle-working statue Onze lieve –Vrouw-op-het- Stoksken (Our Beloved Lady on the Branch) was set into a tabernacle. When the 1566 iconoclasm swept through Antwerp that altar was damaged necessitating a new one. Frans Floris, the most famous artist in Antwerp at the time

was commissioned to paint the altarpiece; the subject of the central panel was The Adoration of the Shepherds. It still exists, but the wings have perished. This picture was moved to the cathedral’s high altar after the painting that had adorned it was destroyed. But when it was removed, the guild no longer had a devotional focus. To remedy this situation, the gardeners ordered a new devotional image whose subject was “The Creation of Adam of Eve,” a theme appropriate to its members’ business. No documents survive naming the artist who painted it, and the image itself has been lost or not identified. In 1625, the gardeners were able to retrieve the Floris picture; it replaced The Creation of Adam and Eve. At that time, the Creation vanished. It should be noted that the gardeners’ altar was prominently situated; it was located at the third pier of the north transept. During the seventeenth century, the guilds modernized their altars, making them essentially uniform with marble balustrades. The gardeners’ guild retained their wooden structure well into the eighteenth century. It finally was taken down and a marble one was in place by 1780.


A. Denys Alsloot’s painting of the 1615 Brussels


At present, I have not been able to discover the location of the gardeners’ guild hall in Antwerp; however, in Brussels, documentation exists. That such halls were part of the fabric of urban life is self-evident, since the members of the guilds had to discuss matters relating to their trade, municipal issues, and social events. Other artisanal halls are well documented and there is no reason to believe that this guild or trade was exceptional. Denys van Alsloot’s depiction of the 1615 Ommegang portrays the procession of the Brussels’ in the city’s Grande Place. The guild of Fruiterers, according to the painting, had seven masters. But at an earlier date thirty vegetable stalls were situated on the Grand Place and alongside the gardeners were the “fruiterers;” these numbered ten vendors of figs, eight sellers of apples, and five for retailed nuts. For vegetables that were not sold by Antwerp city residents, vending took place on the wharf. A comparable arrangement existed at Brussels.

In 1585, gardeners or vegetable vendors in Brussels were required to become city residents. As early as the fourteenth century, this occupation was organized as a guild, with many of its members residing on the rue de Schaerbeek (Orsendael) or the Meyboom (the Marais or t’broeck [Henne and Wauters, II, 575-576] ). Women formed the core of the guild, although husbands might hold the title of “master.” Guilds or trades and professions were grouped together in Brussels under the protection of a saint. Such entities were known as “Nations.” The gardeners belonged the nation of Our Lady (Notre-Dame) which consisted of four guilds: butchers, vendors of salted fish, vegetable gardeners and sawyers, and goldsmiths.

In Brussels, the gardeners (brouckoisen, Henne and Wauters, I, 51) were one of three independent guilds who had a meeting halls or chambers in the building known as The Hermitage ( l’Hermitage or the Kluis [De Cluyse]); it was located on the eastern side of the Grande Place, between buildings bearing the names Fame and Fortune, and just off the Rue des Chapeliers. On the ground floor of “The Hermitage,” a “bar” served guild members refreshments; its entrance was decorated with a stone relief depicting an aged hermit, kneeling, and a small chapel. The floor above was rented from the municipality by retail wine merchants who sold their commodities in comparable businesses: inns and taverns. The gardeners, who were allied with sawyers in one guild, occupied the second floor. It is likely that the proximity of gardeners to inn and tavern keepers was not a matter of chance, but more likely a business decision; the gardeners probably sold their produce to the businesses on the first floor. Rents paid to the municipality of Brussels demonstrate how lucrative the profession of gardeners’ (and sawyers) was. This corporation paid forty to fifty Rhenish florins, lower but not significantly so than their neighbors below, who were charged 60 or 70 florins (Henne and Wauters, III, 57).

After Louis XIV’s attack on Brussels, in August 1695, the Hermitage and buildings adjacent to it on the eastern side of the Grande Place were largely destroyed. Immediate restoration took place, and in three years an imposing classical structure was erected to hide the square’s disfigurement. Designed by Guillaum de Bruyn, it became known as the House of the Dukes of Brabant ( la maison des Ducs de Brabant), because busts of the early dukes of Brabant were affixed to the façade’s pilasters. This building announced a new era of rational “modernity,” yet insisted on continuity with the past. Guilds maintained their activity behind the face-lift, if not the ones that were located originally in the properties on the east side before the attack.

The Brussels fruiterers (fruyteniers) have not been mentioned yet. They belonged to the Saint Giles Nation, and thus were distinct from the gardeners. According to Henne and Wauters (II, 578), the two guilds were disputatious and did not agree on many matters. The fruiterers often complained about daily free markets; moreover, they were not permitted to sell their commodities in orchards, the source of some of their commodities. No doubt this limitation was imposed because orchards could not be supervised by market regulators, since they were not situated in open urban public areas, such as market squares. Henne and Wauters (II, 578) report that these problems existed in the late fifteenth-century. It is not clear whether these continued into the seventeenth century.

B. The Gardeners’ Guild Hall in London: Worcester House, guild tokens, and the guild’s coat of arms.

That such guild halls existed is indicated by the presence of one in London, located in Worcester House, so-named because the rented property belonged to the earl of Worcester (Gould, p.51). The hall may have been used for transactions and for the storage of goods and administrative meetings; it is believed that celebratory feasts occurred in a nearby building. Because the structure and those surrounding it were destroyed in the Great Fire, determining its function(s) is difficult to establish. But there are important material remains that survive: tokens used as coin for the guild’s trade and the guild’s coat of arms. The arms showed “The Fall of Man”: Adam and Eve flank the tree whereon the serpent wraps itself about the trunk. Among the surviving examples of this coat of arms is one that originated in Antwerp; it is dated 1645 and said to be by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677). The same subject, “The Fall of Man,” was embossed on the guild’s tokens. Because these were “small change,” the image was ubiquitous. Although it is not identical with the Antwerp Gardener’s Guild altarpiece which represented “The Creation of Man,” the subjects are related. Hollar’s 1645 shield design has a text to clarify the significance of the image: “Christ is the Tree of Life/ Whose Fruit we Taste by Faith.” This can be read as meaning that the believer accepts the redemptory nature of Christ’s sacrifice, and faith alone grants salvation. But Hollar’s design was intended for a Protestant community not Roman Catholic. The religious significance of the lost altarpiece of the Antwerp gardener’s guild would have been adapted accordingly for its community. Additionally the subject emphasizes that God’s creation was for humanity’s use. This notion is in keeping with the task of gardeners whose role is to care for the produce fashioned by divine invention. Thanks to the art of agriculture, the wild is tamed, and the goods found in the wilderness after The Fall are restored to a semblance of their former self.


A. Provenance:

Sir James Lowther, 1st earl of Lonsdale. It has been suggested that the picture was purchased at the Willem Lormier sale at The Hague, in 1763 [Lugt 1307), but that is not the case. The painting is not listed in the Lormier auction catalog, and no evidence has yet been found that Lormier acquired the picture earlier and then sold it through an agent, to James Lowther, first earl of Lonsdale (1736—1802). (My sincere thanks to Everhard Korthals Altes for his invaluable assistance regarding the purported Lormier provenance (October 3, 2011, e-mail). The Lysons, Daniel and Samuel, in Magna Britannia , vol. 4, published in 1816, visited the earl of Lonsdale’s seat at Whitehaven, Cumbria, which held a good number of pictures, among them pieces by Sndyers. The authors specified “five large remarkably fine ones of animals by Snyders.” The Lysons do not mention a still life or a produce market at Whitehaven. The provenance of the picture might have been settled, had the indefatigable Gustav Waagen, who visited Lowther Castle (until 1814, designated as Lowther Hall) in 1854, taken advantage of “a letter of admission” obtained for him by a friend to visit Lord Lonsdale’s “other seat,” Whitehaven, which “possesses a fine collection of pictures by Snyders.” Though this favor was exceptional, Waagen decided to pass up the opportunity, explaining: “Much . . . as I admire the works of this great animal-painter, other collections both in Scotland and England . . . claimed too much of my time to allow me time to pay a visit to Whitehaven.” Alas. The Museum of North Carolina, at Raleigh, did purchase one of the Lonsdale Snyders, a Flesh and Fish Market in 1952`. That picture, in fact, was sold at the Lormier auction in 1763; it had been in Lormier’s collection since 1752. According to Everhard Korthals Altes, Lormier acquired the painting from Pieter Ietswaart.

B. The Painters: Frans Snyders and workshop, and collaboration by Cornelis de Vos and Jan Wildens

The Lonsdale Produce Market was designed and painted by Frans Snyders, with workshop assistance, from Jan Wildens, and his brother in-law Cornelis de Vos. (e-mail, August 5, 2011, Arnout Balis: “The woman in your Market Scene is (almost certainly) by Cornelis de Vos: compare in Katlijne Van der Stighelen's 1990 monograph (Portretten ... Cornelis de Vos), esp. cat 1 (on the right wing), cat 39 or cat 98.”). Since the attribution question posed to Arnout Balis concerned only the older woman, he did not write about the younger woman. Katilijne van der Stighelen confirmed Balis’s attribution. However, it is probable that she, too, was painted by Cornelis de Vos, despite her “Rubensian” aspect. As for the landscape, the brushwork, fluid medium, and hues suggests the hand of Jan Wildens, an attribution first suggested by Johnny van Haeften. As will be recalled, Wildens was one of three persons Rubens entrusted with appraising his art collection, shortly before his death. Snyders likewise was charged with this task. Another connection should be made as well. Cornelis de Vos was married to Susanna Cock, Jan Wildens?s half sister. Snyders, Cornelis de Vos, and Wildens collaborated on other pictures, and when staffage was not required, Snyders and Wildens worked together.

C. The Lonsdale Produce Market: in general and comparisons

The Market has never been published or exhibited, even in the nineteenth century, and is currently unknown to historians of art, although it is a work of great interest, of the highest quality, and painted by Frans Snyders with workshop assistance, except for the staffage and landscape. His workshop helped to prepare the canvas and assisted him in painting motifs, but Snyders was vigilant about this work and closely supervised its execution.

Comparisons of motifs between The Fruit Market and The Vegetable Market in the van Ophem set and The Lonsdale Produce Market show great similarities, yet differences exist too: an example: the huckleberries in the van Ophem picture depicts picks stuck into the berries; none are present in the Lonsdale scene. As for strawberries, a nearly contemporary painting by Sndyers, Still Life with Fruit and a Squirrel, dated 1616 and signed (Inv. nr., 1993.566 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston) shows a Wan li bowl loaded with strawberries. These fruit are exquisitely painted, scientifically accurate yet aesthetically rendered. Each “seed” (achene) on the strawberry’s exterior is set into a dimple and judiciously placed highlights excite the senses. The same care is not present in a comparable bowl of strawberries in the Lonsdale painting. These are portrayed with less exactitude, formulaic even. But for a painting of this size the difference is not surprising. Snyders was using workshop assistants of high quality; however, they were not required to imitate the master in all details. For a painting of this size this is not unusual. Yet, the quality is exceptional and surely indicates that it was commissioned. Although a person of high rank, possibly a grandee or great noble, or a person occupying an exalted government position might have been the client, I would like to propose an alternative: that the client was a commercial or municipal institution, specifically a gardener’s guild. On the basis of the information presented above, gardeners’ guilds were significant socially, politically, and economically; they occupied an important role in supplying a city’s residents with their daily foodstuffs. This thesis accounts for the exceptional aspects of the Lonsdale picture that are otherwise difficult to explain. Given the circumstances in the two principal cities, The Lonsdale Produce Market is more likely to have been painted for the gardeners’ guild in Antwerp, rather than the one in Brussels. Produce in the former was regulated by a single corporation, whereas the latter had two guilds, each responsible for one type of commodity. Moreover the Antwerp guild included basket makers. Samples of their work are profusely pictured in the Lonsdale painting. Contrast this with absence of saws in that picture. Since the Brussels’ guild included artisans who specialized in that tool, the fact that none are depicted is an argument against situating the painting in the gardeners’ guild hall in The Hermitage at the Grande Place. Finally, gardeners and fruiterers did not share the same saint, and belonged to different nations.

D. Vegetarianism: The Healthy Diet

In the seventeenth century, vegetarian diets were recommended by the educated, but whether they refrained from meat and ate more vegetables and fruit is unclear. (See Koslow, Snyders and Colin Spencer, The Heretic’s Feast A History of Vegetarianism, Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1995). John Evelyn was a proponent of vegetarianism, setting forth his views in various publications. He noticed that farmers were longer-lived than the affluent and the nobility, whose diet consisted largely of meat. Thus, he suggested that to remain healthy and live longer, a diet of produce was to be preferred. I bring attention here to this overlooked precursor of current thinking, where even president’s wives advocate for the consumption of fruit and vegetables.

E. Sir John Lowther and Vegetarianism at Whitehaven

The connection with vegetarianism may even be closer. Sir John Lowther, 1st Viscount (1655-1700), who built Whitehaven Hall (Cumbria), later known as Whitehaven Castle, was a confirmed vegetarian. He laid out extensive gardens and planted fruit trees throughout these vast expanses ( Lowther Castle and Gardens: Overview. English Heritage, June 2010, p. 26). Alison Day, the Lonsdale archivist at Archive Service, Carlisle, may well find documentation in the extensive Lonsdale archives that may support this hypothesis. Whereas James Lowther, 1st earl of Lonsdale seems to have had a penchant for small Dutch masters, despite his Byronic oversive character, it may be his forebear whose dietary convictions coincided with Snyders’s Produce Market who purchased this work. One can easily imagine his enjoyment looking at the painting, and imagining him comparing what he saw with what he cultivated.

But most people in the seventeenth century were not knowledgeable about vegetarianism and its philosophical implications. However, among educated philosophically minded persons engaged in the sciences who advocated vegetarianism can be counted Sir John Evelyn and the great botanist John Ray. Both were members of the Royal Society. Lowther was forward-looking in other respects too, such as in mining and Whitehaven, said to be the first planned city in Britain.

F. The Cuisine of Vegetables and Fruit

The less costly vegetables, cabbages and kale, beets, carrots and turnips, onions and peas were daily fare, cooked together into a mash, a kind of vegetable soup that was served at lunch, which in effect was an afternoon meal. More expensive greens, such as the artichoke and the asparagus were found on the tables of the affluent or nobles who could afford these delicacies. They were courses or dishes in their own right and were not put into the common pot.

Fruit, the final course of a meal, was one of the delicacies of dessert. Cooked and prepared into jellies or pastes, sugared or sweetened with honey, this course, among the great, was enjoyed in pavilions built on the rooftops of châteauxs, prodigy houses or in garden arbors and tamed nature. Grapes in the southern Netherlands were grown in small quantities and consumed fresh or occasionally made into wine, as were mulberries. Apples were eaten raw but they also were used to make cider, a drink favored by all. Other fruits were distilled by housewives to provide soothing liquors and medicaments for households. Recipes in cookbooks published for a literate public explained the uses of produce for gustatory enjoyment and for health. Translated into various languages, culinary treats circulated among cuisines of other lands. Most published cookbooks were written by men in the Renaissance and in early modern Europe. But an extensive literature of cookbooks by women, many handwritten and passed down within a family, had recipes for dishes wherein produce was an ingredient.


The Lonsdale Produce Market and The Van Ophem Vegetable and Fruit Markets

The Lonsdale Produce Market depends directly from a set of four market scenes that Snyders painted for Jacques van Ophem, Brabant’s tax collector for Brussels and its environs, c 1618-1621. This set was installed in a large chamber in van Ophem’s Brussels’ residence, a mansion that was both his home and also housed his office as tax collector. (For more on van Ophem see above.) Constituting the set were four paintings of ample dimensions: fish, sweet and salt water, and various aquatic creatures; game, flesh, and poultry; a vegetable market and a fruit market. The settings are appropriate for each, as is the staffage. Men prepare and sell provisions that require muscular physical labor, while women vend agricultural goods. In the latter, shoppers are portrayed, whereas the former paintings do not include customers. Goods from the watery element are assembled at a stall on a quay that may represent Antwerp’s; meat is depicted at an open- air urban stall, For the agricultural goods, fruit is shown in front of a wall, suggestive of urban architecture or the exterior of a manorial residence of a great lord; vegetables are depicted in a rural location, but proximate to a lordship and to a city, whose skyline is visible in the distance. On the city’s perimeter are plots where women garden vegetables. This setting recalls the gardening lots situated outside Antwerp where produce was cultivated, and proximity to the city made it possible to expeditiously haul them to urban markets where they still retained the food’s freshness.

I have argued elsewhere (Koslow, Snyders) that the van Ophem set may have been commissioned by the patron to emphasize the prosperity that the rulers of the southern Netherlands, the archdukes Albert and Isabella, accomplished during their reign. The Low Countries had been a theater of war which raged for decades, destroying the economy of the land and causing great hardship and insecurity. When the Habsburg cousins Albert and Isabella married and were sent by Philip II to rule the lands, a cessation of hostilities was negotiated, to begin in 1609 and to last for the duration of twelve years. The Twelve Year Truce, as it is known, was successful in many respects; it did restore peace and with peace a more stable and productive society: prosperity was the offspring of peace.

The Lonsdale Produce Market is a composite of the two produce scenes of the Van Ophem Markets. Although at present the hypothesis cannot be proven, there is much to be said in its favor that a gardeners’ guild commissioned the picture for a guild hall. This carefully meditated picture does not favor an individual as Snyders’s client, that is, a lord or seignor whose desire for a painting showing foodstuffs could have been satisfied with a seignorial still life; rather the commercial and organizational references of this work argue for a corporation, a guild, specifically a gardeners’ guild.

As pointed out above, in Antwerp, that guild had three units: vegetable gardeners, fruiterers, and basket makers. Each is represented in the picture. The vegetable gardener and fruit gardener by the two women; the basket makers are not depicted, but samples of their wares are represented. No less then twelve types are depicted. Some are large and appear exceptionally sturdy; others are more delicate and are intended more for display then for storage. And yet others are fashioned with one handle so that the basket can be carried by hand or looped over an arm. Sturdy and decorative, they show the high artisanal quality of their trade.

A. Two into One: The Lonsdale Produce Market

Snyders spliced together the Vegetable and Fruit Markets to create the Lonsdale picture. He chose or, more correctly the patron-- most likely a gardeners’ guild--selected the components of each. These were integrated seamlessly. The result is a splendid composition, rich in subject, color, detail, and narrative interest. The basic design was taken from The Vegetable Market: the rural setting, the wall with an awning overshadowing the goods, a wagon loaded with vegetables, secured by a canvas cover, the two women, and a horse snacking on kale. In addition, the huge circular wicker basket loaded with cabbages and other goods, and the metal pail and colander have been repeated in this picture. Root and bulb vegetables lie on the earth where they were positioned in the van Ophem Vegetable Market.

From The van Ophem Fruit Market, Snyders “lifted” the right side of the composition with its arrangement of fruit in wicker baskets and Wan li (or Wanli) porcelain bowls from the table board and the ground below and

set them into the new picture. In addition to the deletion of the squirrel and the split fruit lying on the board’s corner and the shift of the pole that supports the canopy, the principal changes are the removal of the thieving boy, the repositioning of the young retailer, and the objects that she has selected for sale. She is now the focus of the composition. However, before commenting further on her, I wish to call attention to what other items have been deleted from The Lonsdale Produce Market, most notably goods on the right side of the composition. Snyders is known for seemingly arbitrarily cutting off motifs at the sides of pictures. Not surprisingly this “signature” approach occurs in The Lonsdale Produce Market, too.

Examples are: on the right side of The van Ophem Fruit Market, a large lattice-like woven basket is laden with golden-hued quince and dark red and blue plums. So plenteous are the fruits that the basket cannot contain all; some are gathered at the basket’s base, others hang down over its rim. In The Lonsdale Market this basket has been omitted along with the circular ceramic bowl crammed with small reddish-brown fruit (plums or medlars?) situated to the fore of the basket.

When Snyders planned The Lonsdale Produce Market, it appears that he, with the agreement of a gardeners’ guild, the supposed patron, decided to truncate the design to the right of the magnificent central basket. Consequently, a porcelain bowl holding strawberries is halved. And the goods below the table are similarly diminished, most notably the magnificent oblong basket filled with small, variegated colored pears and apples, and a delicately crafted basket holding bright red cherries; many of these are joined together by twisted stems which give the fruit a more tactile and interesting appearance, and even suggest union.

In the area reserved for fruit, the contents of the central basket on the trestle table have been changed. In The Van Ophem Fruit Market a profusion of many varieties of grapes fill its capaciousness, and expand upwards, rising to a great height. So fresh are the grapes that they are still attached to leafy branches. The Lonsdale basket also has bunches of grapes similarly arranged, with dark blue on the right side, light green ones to the right grapes of variegated warm and cool colors. What has been added are yellow quinces; these are visible through the basket’s sides, giving greater depth to its interior. The quinces and other yellow fruit, citrons in particular, considerably brighten the scene, which doubtlessly was intentional. In The Van Ophem Fruit Market the yellow motifs are effectively scattered, separated by darker areas. The result is a less unified design, at least in color and tone. The Lonsdale picture, on the other hand, assembles the warm bright colors of the fruit, massing them together on the right side of the picture. Except for the brown “notes” of the mushrooms, the left side of the design is dominated by the cool hues of the vegetables.

As regards the vegetables, Snyders only replicated the left side of The van Ophem Vegetable Market, and

omitted the right, except for three items: a shallow basket filled with green beans, topped by beans in a porcelain bowl (?), and brown-capped mushrooms on white stalks in a wide but shallow basket. This group was transferred to the left corner of The Lonsdale Produce Market with one change; green gooseberries replaced the slender beans (?) formerly in the porcelain bowl. To accommodate these vegetables, certain items were removed that had been present in the van Ophem market. One reason that can be proposed for excerpting this arrangement and repositioning it can be explained by compositional needs. The long low basket filled with beans is diagonally angled, thus matching the fruit basket on the opposite side. These diagonals are crucial for fashioning spatial depth, however shallow. Between them they form a narrow stage and are like flats helping to create an illusion of depth. Additionally, they delimit the sidewise expansion of the composition; they are, in effect, frames.

The separation and disposition of the fruit and vegetables and the multitude of baskets references the three entities that formed the Antwerp gardeners’ guild. But in addition to showing, by implication the organization of a gardeners’ guild, the design may also allude to yet another factor, that is, health which was largely based on the then prevailing medical belief of the humoral system or the body’s four fluids. To maintain health, it was argued, the fluids had to be balanced and adjusted according to age, sex, climate and other factors. Thus the distinction between the painting’s right and left sides may allude to dietetics and health. To sustain physical well being, a balance between the hot and the cold, the wet and dry, and other polarities had to be regulated. Could the pictorial division between right and left, between fruit and vegetables allude to this dietetic prescription? Possibly.

In the course of splicing together the two produce pictures from the van Ophem set, the new painting, The Lonsdale Produce Market is considerably more dynamic

then the scenes from which it was derived. Sweeping curves swirl across the picture plane, animated by chiaroscuro and the rich flow of intermingling warm and cool hues. In keeping with the energized design, the women are no longer passive, as in the van Ophem paintings. The older woman especially has a distinctive, almost portrait- like countenance that is lively and expressive. As she addresses the young woman, she tilts her head and gestures in a most convincing manner. The young woman is restrained and idealized; it is her gestures that speak. She listens as the older woman instructs her, but her features remain impassive, perhaps to underscore the gravity of decisions that confront her. She has selected two types of produce secured with her right hand : citrus fruit and a large artichoke stalk. The former, cultivated in southern Europe, is likely a Spanish import, whereas the latter, though originating from the Mediterranean, had been acclimatized to more northerly lands, and came from a nearby farm, as the un-wilted green leaves attest. A ready market for these luxury goods existed in the city and the young woman will surely realize a profit. Her sales will be made while walking about in the streets. This type of vending held risks for young women, as urban regulations indicate. Since they were unaccompanied and walked through streets that were not policed, men regarded them as prey for brief sexual encounters. The produce that the retailer has selected indicates a potential for this type of danger. The artichoke was widely held to be an aphrodisiac while citrus fruits, the lemon (or citron) specifically, recalled The Fall. Although lemons had medicinal uses, most importantly to counter the baleful effects of overindulgence in wine, it is the notional concept that is preeminent in this context, in my view.

Exactly what type of fruit the Tree of Knowledge bore was not specified in the Bible and was a matter of debate. Most often it was identified as an apple, but the fig and a lemon, were contenders too. Among the latter, one lemon in particular gained acceptance, the

so-called “Adam’s Apple.” This lemon is small, with a bumpy, variegated colored peel. It famously appears in the Ghent altarpiece: Eve holds one in her hand. Although the lemon—the one fully visible to the viewer-- is portrayed by Snyders as larger then the one represented by Jan van Eyck, and lacking its other attributes such as the nodules of the classic Limonium pomum Adami, it does resemble closely the example of the “Adam’s Apple” engraved in Giovanni Ferraris’ Hesperides sive de malorum aureorum cultura (Rome 1646), 311r. Were this to be the case, then the retailer in The Lonsdale Produce Market may well be a surrogate for Eve. Yet as a “New Eve,” ensouled with the capacity to chose between good and evil, she recognizes redemption in the form of the unhusked hazelnut that the mature woman, the gardener, is urging her to favor, perhaps to fill her basket with this product rather than the ones she has chosen. (For more on the hazelnut and Julian of Norwich, see above, The Van Ophem Fruit Market).

B. The Fictive Aspects of The Lonsdale Produce Market

“Market” is the thematic category wherein Snyders’s Lonsdale picture is classified, but the term is a misnomer unless it is understood expansively, to include scenes that are related to marketing but do not actually depict a market. The Lonsdale painting does not represent a market, although paraphernalia used at markets are represented. Foremost is the stall, consisting of a trestle table and a canopy. The canopy is not attached to the table but to a wall directly behind the table. Its purpose is to protect the goods it covers from inclement weather as well as the sun’ warmth. Given the commodities depicted, baskets are contextually appropriate. But the stall is situated in a suburban garden or farming area. Furthermore, there are no additional stalls, whereas in a true market, greens and fruit stalls did not stand alone.

Markets were institutions located in villages, towns and urban centers. Their existence was regulated in every respect: its situation, items vended, hours when vending could take place, among other matters. In this picture the stall is not used for marketing. Rather, it appears to function as a site where goods are assembled and prepared for marketing. The protagonists in the picture are two women both of whom are involved either in gardening or in vending or possibly both, but neither are shoppers. They are suppliers; the older woman is probably a gardener given her physical appearance, her weather-beaten skin and her clothing, and possibly a wholesaler too, while the beautiful robust younger woman is likely a retailer at this phase in her life, who wears a straw hat to protect her fair skin and her golden tresses, and who will stroll about in the urban market or in streets adjacent to the market and sell goods from her basket. Although her attire resembles a female servant’s, given the circumstances, she cannot be identified as a household employee. (It is implausible that a servant would travel beyond the city to the garden lots to select a few items for her employees, when they were available within the city.) No other persons are present, yet a cart filled with fresh produce and a horse are prepared for a journey; the destination is likely the city depicted in the distance. There the produce will be unloaded and set up at a stall or stalls within a market in an area allotted to the produce vendors. Although many pictures depict men driving such carts, the Flemish artist Jan Siberechts (1627-1703) portrayed women in the driver’s seat, with a second woman sitting amongst the baskets and containers of produce Women Gardeners Traveling to Market (1662, Brussels, Royal Museum of Fine Arts). The Van Ophem Market scenes, from which this picture originates, must be re -assessed in light of the reading proposed here.

The disposition of the produce is clearly fictive, as well. The segregation of fruit and vegetables into two distinct groupings at a single stall is an invention. Municipal regulations in Antwerp enforced a division between these goods. Vegetables were to be vended at stalls reserved for them, while fruit was sold at their own dedicated stalls, a division accurately depicted in the “naïve” picture, The Antwerp Meir Market. Snyders shows a hierarchical distinction between the two types of produce. For the most part, fruit is raised above the vegetables, occupying the table’s board, protected by a canopy, with some of the rarer more delicate fruit assembled within precious dishes. To accommodate the bountifulness of the goods, baskets situated on the floor hold more fruit. In contrast, the vegetables on the picture’s left are exposed to the weather and are in baskets placed on the ground. Dishes do not hold them, and one only, a stalk with artichokes, is on the table. Its presence on this higher level is accounted for by the young woman’s selection of this product to carry in her basket. are None are shown in dishes

Another element of the Lonsdale picture that underscores its fictive nature is the choice of fruit and how it is displayed for sale. The region’s major fruit production was apples and pears. The former, praised by Ludovico Gucciardini for their variety, taste, and quality, could be used for cooking and for making cider. A lively trade in apples existed too; they were exported to various lands, among them the United Provinces. How curious it is then, that these fruits are relegated to a minor role in the picture. They are massed together in a basket on the lower right hand side on the ground, where they are hardly noticeable. Why? The lack of prominence allotted this important income source, should be compared to its representation in the Meir Market, veristic even though “naively” painted. In that picture, the fruit stalls have very large baskets tightly packed with apples and pears and the baskets occupy much of the stall space. The answer for underplaying apples and pears may well lie in their economic importance, their ubiquity, the very fact that they were not exceptional and signs of status.

The other fruits in the Lonsdale picture were available in the Spanish Netherlands; the exotics ones grown in Spain and Portugal were transported north by boat. Most prominent among these were citrus fruit (citrons, lemons, oranges) and pomegranates. The remainder were luxury fruit grown in regional gardens and whose availability was limited to the public at large. Most were nurtured in the private gardens of princes, great nobles, high office holders, patricians, and those emulating the lifestyle of society’s elite. A gardeners’s guild may well have wished to emphasize prestigious articles rather than the quotidian, in a work intended to embellish a guild hall. Such liberties would be viewed as giving its members a sense of importance, as well as visitors to the hall. Furthermore, these depictions might well have had a didactic role; picturing goods had an instructive aspect for all who encountered the painting.

And now for several observations about some of the fruit shown. Fresh currants were rare; however, dried ones were imported via Antwerp or Ostend. Figs were also uncommon, but careful nurturing in gardens yielded fruit. Rubens had a fig tree in his Antwerp garden and so must other wealthy persons have cultivated them. Private gardens also supplied peaches, apricots, plums, and huckleberries; the latter are depicted in the Lonsdale picture without picks, but in the van Ophem Market these have been supplied. As regards the watermelon and other melons, evidence concerning their cultivation in the southern Netherlands is lacking.

Perhaps must surprising of all is the centrality, variety, and quantity of grapes in Sndyers’s picture. In fact, grapes were not plentiful in the southern Netherlands; only a few vines grew locally at religious institutions or in the gardens of the great. Guicciardini does mention that grapes were available in eastern towns or localities, but they were ill-tasting, not plentiful, and the wine made from them was rough or coarse.

Yet, looking at Sndyers’s still- life pictures where grapes are so plentiful, it seems as if Snyders was painting from life, from actual models. But this assuredly was not the case, and it certainly is not true for the Lonsdale scene. Sndyers exercised his near magical skill to convince the viewer that what was portrayed simulated life exactly, but it was not so. Ripeness is evident throughout; the fruit are in a perfect state. They do not show signs of disease, of rot, of immaturity; rather they are at the height of perfection. To underscore the appearance of freshness, the sensation that the goods have arrived directly from the garden, unplucked, they are shown attached to branches, still gaining sap and sustenance from them.

The fictive aspects of the Lonsdale Produce Market have been emphasized above. But one further observation is appropriate in this section: the presence of the monkey. It can be identified as an old-world monkey, a savannah guenon known as a vervet (Chlorocebus sabeus), so-named for the greenish appearance of its fur. These monkeys are native to lands on Africa’s west coast (Senegal and Ghana today). Thus they were accessible to Europeans who had contact with this region. Although the vervet has broken its chain, freeing itself from confinement, and scampering out of a house where it was a rare and very costly pet, its presence at the stall is accounted for not by narrative, but by symbolism. Depicted in the Lonsdale’s Van Ophem Vegetable Market together with a squirrel, it is alone here, plundering the basket loaded with apricots, and in so doing falling backwards in its hasty greediness.

In sum then, the Lonsdale picture does not portray an actual market, but it does show affiliated activities and elements that are appropriate to a market. Yet it embroiders truth, fictionalizing facts to suit the picture’s presumed purpose, the embellishment of a guild hall or chamber where gardeners as a social and political entity, socialized, gathered to consider the political and business transactions and practices, and to celebrate festive and solemn occasions.


A. The Modello

Snyders prepared designs (modello; modelli, pl.) for his compositions. These are pen and ink drawings with wash on paper. First, black chalk was used to sketch a rough design. Then, pen, brown ink, and wash on paper defined the forms and composition. Once the design was complete, Snyders indicated, at least in some drawings, where the seams of the canvas would be situated. Also in certain drawings black chalk and a straight edge were used to define and insure the horizontality of the forward edge of the tabletop. And in some instances he drew vertical lines on the sides of the compositions, to indicate the width of the picture. Such drawings are modelli, finished compositions, which could be shown to a patron and also kept on file in the artist’s shop. Fine narrow ink lines are drawn around sides of the paper. In one drawing, at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, the horizontal line defining the uppermost edge of the picture extends beyond the vertical line on the right side. Perhaps this indicates that Snyders was considering more than one size. Color is not indicated. Drawings that do have color notes are records after the original drawing. And drawings that have color in gouache and water color are not by Snyders, unless an original drawing was over-painted at a later date by someone unattached to the workshop. Likewise, none of the large chalk drawings of dogs attributed to Snyders are by the master’s hand.

B. The Lost Modello

A pen, ink, and wash drawing of the type described assuredly was prepared for The Lonsdale Produce Market, but it is lost, as are the ones made for the van Ophem set on which the Lonsdale picture is based. Precisely how Snyders proceeded from the modest-sized modello drawing to a large-sized canvas, be it two bolts wide or even larger is, at present, unknown. Possibly a cartoon was made to size, but if these existed none have been recognized. Moreover they may have been destroyed in the very process of enlargement. Perhaps marks were made on the canvas which have not been discovered. He did not square his drawings, except in one instance, and measurements have not been found along the perimeter of his drawings or paintings. This important issue awaits study.


The similarities between The Lonsdale Produce Market and the fruit and vegetable pictures in the set of Four Markets Sndyers painted for Jacques van Ophem could not have been overlooked by contemporaries. I propose, therefore, that the gardeners’ guilds, if indeed one of them commissioned the picture, intended to establish a visible affiliation between the van Ophem set and their institution. Elsewhere I contended that one of the themes the van Ophem set forth was the time-honored notion that peace is the genetrix of plenty or abundance and wealth. This same message is evident in The Lonsdale Produce Market. Absent peace, agriculture as manifested in this scene, is unthinkable. The Lonsdale picture portrays a sunny day where gardeners work in their fields or lots in a suburban region on the perimeter of a city. That a rural setting is not depicted is not unexpected; distant farms on seignories were not within the purview of a gardeners’ guild, although wholesalers within the guild might contract with such farmers for certain goods, such as fruit, which were not grown locally, and then retail these within the distribution framework of a city.

Another feature that The Lonsdale Market emphasizes is the diversity of creation; this same concept exists in The Van Ophem Markets, indeed the specimens are identical. The pictures are encyclopedic and each renders produce as objective scientific fact but without foregoing the visual beauty and sensuous appeal to the viewer’s other senses of taste, touch, and odor. Yet, despite the serious profound concepts the picture treats, Snyders adds humor to the scene by depicting lively animal actions that introduce movement which otherwise would be lacking.

Finally, mention should be made of the numbers written on The Produce Market’s table leg. This detail is unique and appears in no other picture by Snyders. I have consulted with various Belgian historians and none were able to answer the questions: “what” and “why.” In fact, few numbers are legible or illegible depending on the authority. Probably the numbers, if original, indicate the cost per item or items, but a grand total is not indicated. Nor was it meant to be. That would have indicated a specific historical moment. By “fudging” the numbers, the picture had greater universality: “anytime” rather then a particular moment. This tally again points to the commercial aspect of the picture. It is my belief that the picture’s installation allowed viewers to see the numbers, but possibly not at eye level.

To sum up: Around 1620, Frans Snyders designed The Lonsdale Produce Market, reserving for himself the produce, the horse and the monkey. Staffage was carried out by Cornelis de Vos, Sndyers’s brother-in- law, and Jan Wildens painted the landscape. However, Snyders was aided by his workshop when painting the produce, yet it is extremely difficult to distinguish between his hand and his workshop’s participation, except in a few instances, since the quality is so high throughout. With great vivacity and delight Snyders presents the earthly paradise as it was recreated under the wise eirenic policies of the archdukes.



A. Identification of the Fruit in The Lonsdale Produce Market

Lower Left, on top of basket filled with beans

1. Gooseberry: lower left, in oriental-looking bowl

Trestle Table

2. Plums, multicolored: red with blue patches on branches

3. Red berries in wan- li bowl (cherries?)

4. Citron, orange? lemon? : luxury, imported fruit

5. Apricots (basket): luxury fruit

6. Plums: blue on branch

7, Peaches, white (?), in wan-li bowl: luxury fruit

8. Figs, wan-li bowl

9. Huckleberry [?] in woven basket (no picks as in Van Ophem set), luxury fruit

10. Blue berries in pottery bowl (black currants, possibly: luxury fruit)

11. Strawberries, wan- li bowl

12. Strawberries, wan- li bowl

13. Currants: red, black/blue, golden/yellow, on branches: luxury fruit

in large wicker basket (luxury fruit, according to Lindemans)

14. Grapes: light green; multi-colored, green, red, purplish, blue, on vines

15. Quinces

Below table in various

wicker basket:

16. Citron: luxury, imported

17. Oranges: “

18. Pomegranates “ “

sturdy woven basket

19. Apples

20. Pears

woven basket atop apples and pears

21. cherries [wicker basket]

Below table, on ground

22. Melons, green exterior, orange flesh: luxury, imported

23. Watermelons: spherical and one elongated: luxury, imported

24. Currants, on branches: luxury


1. Filberts (hazelnuts) in basket on table

2. Chestnuts under the table in a large woven basket