The Archdukes Albert and Isabella Visiting a Collector's Cabinet

About Hieronymus Francken II

A member of the famous Francken family of Antwerp, which produced three generations of painters, the Baroque artist Hieronymous Francken II painted courtly scenes, religious subject matter, and still lifes. He probably trained with his father, Frans Francken I, and in 1605 was apprenticed to his uncle Ambrosius I. In his meticulously detailed painting The Archdukes Albert and Isabella Visiting a Collector's Cabinet (1621–3), Francken depicts the archdukes Albert and Isabella, the Habsburg governors of the Southern Netherlands, as they visit the private gallery of a Flemish collector. Artworks by other Flemish artists are identifiable in the cavernous space, along with shells and a stuffed bird of paradise from the Spice Islands, monkeys, dogs, and musical instruments. The depiction of a sunflower—first seen by Europeans in the mid-1500s—is thought to be the first appearance of the flower in a painting.

Flemish, 1578-1623, Antwerp, Belgium, based in Antwerp, Belgium