FLORIS, Flemish family of artists
The earliest known members of the family, then called de Vriendt, were active as masons in Brussels in the 15th century. One of them, Jan Florisz. de Vriendt, left his native town and settled in Antwerp c. 1450. His patronymic name 'Floris' became the usual family name for the next generations, although the original form 'de Vriendt' can still be found in official documents until the late 16th century. Jan Floris's grandson Cornelis Floris I (d. 1538) had a mason's workshop in the Steenhouwersvest, Antwerp, where he specialized in cutting tombstones. Initially he was helped by the two eldest of his four sons, but later they all chose a more distinguished artistic profession: Cornelis Floris II became a sculptor and an architect, Frans Floris I a painter, Jan Floris a potter and Jacques Floris a painter of stained-glass windows. All four sons joined the Guild of St Luke in Antwerp. Before this, in 1533, their uncle Claudius Floris (d. after 1548), the youngest brother of their father and presumably also the first teacher of Cornelis II, had also become a member of the Guild. No works by Claudius Floris survive, but his name occurs often in the Antwerp archives, for instance among the artists who restored and redecorated Antwerp Cathedral after the fire of 1533. In 1538 he was apparently already using Renaissance ornament motifs. That he may even have learnt them firsthand from a visit to Italy is suggested by the Italianate form of his name, 'Clauderio', which is sometimes given in documents.