His father, Jan Snyders, ran an inn in Antwerp that was a favorite with artists. In 1593, Frans was apprenticed to Pieter Brueghel III; in 1602 he became a master of the Antwerp Painters’ Guild.
Around the same time in his career he turned increasingly to hunting scenes. He also produced many kitchen-pieces, which often contained moralistic – or erotic – messages. He continued his collaborations with Rubens, Janssen, Jordaens, Bosschaert, and Boeckhorst.
By 1619, Snyders was a rich man, able in 1622 to buy a house and other properties. It also appears that he ran a large workshop, which probably included Paul de Vos and Jan Fyt, who are known to have worked with Snyders even after he became an independent master himself. In Van Dyck’s portrait of Snyders, he seems to have been a sensitive and distinguished gentleman. The portrait hangs in the Frick Gallery in New York, pendant with that of Snyder’s wife.
The rhythm is repeated in the color: the muted browns and yellows unify the brilliant white of the swan with the bright reds of the lobster and boar. Modern viewers find the gutted animal repulsive, but the subject was popular in the 17th c. It alludes to both successful hunting and a well-stocked larder.
Exotic animals, dead and alive, were Snyder’s specialty. His masterly handling of a profusion of different objects exemplifies his skill at rhythmical composition; he knew how to combine such objects in well-arranged patterns. The staggering variety of items intended for the rich man’s dinner menu is surely intended to impress us with the wealth of the owner.
John Ringling hung this painting in the breakfast room of his home, Ca d’Zan.