(b. 1581, Antwerpen, d. 1642, Antwerpen)

Arcadia: a Pastoral Landscape

Oil on panel, 73 x 104 cm
Private collection

This fascinating painting, depicting a pastoral landscape with shepherds and shepherdesses picnicking, is the product of collaboration between five Antwerp painters who were specialists in different fields. The landscape is the work of the woodland specialist Abraham Govaerts, while the figures are by Ambrosius Francken II, with contributions by his older brother Frans Francken II, who is also responsible for the still-life elements of foodstuffs and fine glass and metal vessels. The cows, goats and sheep are the work of Hans Jordaens III, a figure and animal specialist. It also seems that at a late stage in the picture's evolution, the landscapist Alexander Keirincx added the finishing touches to the landscape.

Cooperation of this kind by two or more masters was not unusual in seventeenth-century Antwerp, indeed, it was a typical feature of the production of cabinet paintings of the period. The tradition of painters becoming specialists in particular genres and contributing a share to a single work was already fairly well established by the end of the sixteenth century and the practice was fostered by the close-knit nature of the city's artistic community.