Snyders was born and died at Antwerp. He is recorded as a student of Pieter Brueghel the Younger in 1593, and subsequently received instruction from Hendrick van Balen, the first master of Van Dyck. He was a friend of Van Dyck who painted Snyders and his wife more than once (Frick Collection, Kassel etc.).
He became a master of the Antwerp painters guild in 1602. He visited Italy in 1608-9, visiting Rome, and working for Cardinal Borromeo in Milan. In 1611 he married Margaretha, the sister of Cornelis de Vos and Paul de Vos (another animal painter), in Antwerp. Jan Fyt was a student, and then assistant of his from 1629.
Snyders initially devoted himself to painting flowers, fruit and subjects of still life, but later turned to painting animals, and executed with the greatest skill and spirit hunting pieces and combats of wild animals. He was one of the earliest specialist animaliers.
His composition is rich and varied, his drawing correct and vigorous, his touch bold and thoroughly expressive of the different textures of furs and skins. His excellence in this department excited the admiration of Rubens, who frequently employed him to paint animals, fruit and still life in his own pictures, and he assisted Jacob Jordaens, Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert and other artists in a similar manner.
In the lion and boar hunts which bear the name of Snyders the hand of Rubens sometimes appears. He was one of the executors of Rubens's will.
He was appointed principal painter to the Archduke Albert of Austria, governor of the Low Countries, for whom he executed some of his finest works. One of these, a Stag-Hunt was presented to Philip III of Spain, who together with his successor Philip IV of Spain, commissioned the artist to paint several subjects of the chase, which are still preserved in Spain. He also worked for Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria, when he became Governor.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Ingamells, John, The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Pictures, Vol IV, Dutch and Flemish, Wallace Collection, 1992, ISBN 0-900785-37-3
- Gregory Martin, The Flemish School, 1600–1900, National Gallery Catalogues, 1970, National Gallery, London, ISBN 0-901791-02-4
- Literature and works by Snyders at PubHist
- Paintings of Snyders
- Dutch and Flemish paintings from the Hermitage, an exhibition catalog from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (fully available online as PDF), which contains material on Frans Snyders (cat. no. 49)