FRANCKEN, Flemish family of painters

Nicholas Francken (1510s-1596) moved to Antwerp with his family in the early 1560s; he taught three of his sons to paint, Hieronymus Francken I (c. 1540-1610), Frans Francken I and Ambrosius Francken I, who were also apprenticed to Frans Floris in Antwerp c. 1560. In the next generation, all the sons of Frans Francken I were artists: Thomas Francken (1574-c. 1625), for whom only one altarpiece (1617/18; Aartselar, St Leonardus) is now known; Hieronymus Francken II; Frans Francken II, the best-known and most talented member of the family; and Ambrosius Francken II (c. 1590-1632), who painted landscapes and peasant scenes. The sons of Frans Francken II followed in their father's footsteps, but were weaker artists: Frans Francken III, the best of the youngest generation; Hieronymus Francken III, who specialized in religious subjects; and Ambrosius Francken III (c. 1614-1662).

The fact that the same Christian names occurred in three generations of painters who used identical signatures has caused a great deal of confusion in attributing their various works. It is still not possible to distinguish between all members of the family reliably, as signed and dated works are not available for some of the family members. Several of them were also active in France.

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