POURBUS, Frans the Younger
(b. 1569, Antwerpen, d. 1622, Paris)


Flemish painter, son of Frans Pourbus the Elder. It is likely that he trained in his grandfather's studio in Bruges. He became a master in the Antwerp Guild of St Luke in 1591.

Frans the Younger followed the family tradition and executed portraits, portrait groups and, occasionally, religious subjects. From c. 1594 he was in Brussels and c. 1599 spent a year working at the court of the Archdukes Albert and Isabella. His early work, for instance the portrait of Petrus Ricardus (1592; Bruges, Groeningemuseum), was close to the smooth and brilliant style of his grandfather but was also influenced by the realism of Adriaen Key. One work that can be related to his work for the Brussels court is a gouache copy of a portrait of Archduchess Isabella, inscribed AUTOGRAPH. APUD PICTOREM CELEBREM F. PORBUS, AD VIVUM DEPICT (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris).

In September 1599 Vincenzo Gonzaga I, 4th Duke of Mantua, was in Brussels and appointed Frans the Younger his chief portrait painter. Frans left for Mantua in 1600 (where Rubens was also working); he is recorded as having executed a number of portraits of the ducal family, but this did not preclude his working for other important patrons: Emperor Rudolf II was considering marriage and Pourbus travelled to Innsbruck (1603) and Graz (1604) to paint portraits of prospective brides. Vincenzo Gonzaga's son Francesco despatched Pourbus to Turin on the same errand, and Pourbus painted the daughters of Charles-Emanuel I, 11th Duke of Savoy (in 1608 Francesco married Margaret of Savoy). In 1606 Pourbus travelled to Paris to record the French royal family on the occasion of the Dauphin's baptism for his aunt and godmother, Duchess Eleonora Gonzaga. The following year Pourbus was in Naples, whence he advised the Duke of Mantua to purchase Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofernes and the Madonna of the Rosary. In 1609 Pourbus became painter to Marie de' Medici at the French Court.

Frans Pourbus the Younger's is the most international style of any member of the family. There are works in Amsterdam (Rijksmuseum), Berlin, Leeds, Madrid (Prado), Munich, New York (Metropolitan Museum), Paris (Louvre), Vienna and elsewhere.