FRANCKEN, Hieronymus, I
(b. ca. 1540, Herentals, d. 1610, Paris)


Flemish painter. It is uncertain, after his training in Antwerp, whether he went to Italy, as seems to be suggested by his Venetian Carnival (1565; Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum, Aachen), a remarkable picture with a graceful company of dancers portrayed against the scenery props of the commedia dell'arte. Such a subject would be quite exceptional for Antwerp at such an early date, lending further support to the idea that he spent some time in Italy in the mid-1560s. There is no question, however, that from 1566 to 1572 he was in France. In 1568 Cornelis Floris, the Antwerp master builder, sent his son to Paris to serve his apprenticeship with Hieronymus I, who was back in Antwerp again for a short period in 1574.

From 1578 until his death his presence at the French court at Fontainebleau can be documented. In 1585 Hieronymus I painted an Adoration of the Shepherds with donor portraits of the Thou family for the Parisian church of the Cordeliers (now Ste Ursule-de-la-Sorbonne), which remains in situ. In the same year he was married in Paris and completed, undoubtedly in collaboration with his brother Ambrosius I, a triptych with scenes from the Life of St Eloi, Bishop of Noyon for the altar of the Blacksmiths' Guild in Antwerp Cathedral (Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp).

In 1594 Hieronymus I was appointed Peintre du Roi to the French king. As well as religious commissions, which were idealistic in character and completely in accordance with 16th-century taste, he painted groups of dancers at court (e.g. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), which anticipate the development of this type of composition in the 17th century, particularly in the work of his nephew, Frans Francken II. A self-portrait by Hieronymus I is also preserved (Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence).