Frans Floris, or more correctly Frans de Vriendt, called Floris (
1517- October 1, 1570), Flemish painter, was one of a large family trained to the study of art in Flanders.
Son of the stonecutter Cornelis I de Vriendt, who died at
Antwerpin 1538, he began life as a student of sculpture, but afterwards gave up carving for painting. His brother, Cornelis II de Vriendt (c. 1513/14—1575), was an architect and sculptor. At the age of twenty he went to Liege and took lessons from Lambert Lombard, who highly encouraged studying in Italy.
Floris in his turn wandered across the Alps and quickly became enamored with the painting (particularly
Michelangelo) he found in Rome and the colors he found in Venice. Upon his return home, he opened a workshop on the Italian model from which 120 disciples are stated to have issued. Floris painted series of large pictures for the country houses of Spanish nobles and the villas of Antwerp patricians. He is known to have illustrated the fable of Herculesin ten compositions, and the liberal arts in seven for Nicolaas Jongelinck, a merchant of Antwerp, and adorned the duke of Arschot's palace of Beaumont with fourteen colossal panels.
Comparatively few of his works have descended to us, partly because many were destroyed in the iconoclastic uprisings of the second half of the sixteenth century, and partly because this era in Flemish painting has fallen out of favor in art circles. The earliest extant canvas by Floris is the "Mars and Venus ensnared by Vulcan" in the Berlin Museum (1547). There are other works at
Aalst, Antwerp, Copenhagen, Dresden, Florence, Zoutleeuw, Madrid, St Petersburgand Vienna.
The boldness and force Floris's works possess reflect the monumental style of their Italian models. Their technical execution reveals a rapid hand, bright coloring, and a mastery of anatomy not always evident in Netherlandish art of the time. Floris owed much of his repute to the cleverness with which his works were transferred to copper by
Jerome Cock, Cornelis Cort, and Theodor Galle. Whilst Floris was engaged on a Crucifixion of 27 ft., and a Resurrectionof equal size, for the grand prior of Spain, he was seized with illness, and died on the 1st of October 1570 at Antwerp.
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