About Frans Ykens
Antwerp 1601 – 1692 Brussels?
His first name is sometimes spelt Franciscus or François.
Still life painter. His favourite subjects were flowers and fruit. On some occasions he also painted still lifes with game and a single fish still life.
Sir Peter Paul Rubens owned six still lifes by Ykens.
Frans was a pupil of his uncle, Osias Beert I, who had married his father’s sister, Margarita.
Beert (Antwerp?, circa 1580 – 1623, Antwerp) was an important painter, well-known for his meticulously detailed still lifes. Beside Frans he had just five other pupils: Hans Ickens, Frans van der Brocht, Pieter Doens and Paulus Pontius or Jan Willemsen.
Ykens already entered Beert’s studio at the age of fifteen.
Around 1629 our painter seems to have travelled in the Provence, in Southern France: he is mentioned in Aix-en-Provence and in Marseille.
He was accepted in the Painter’s Guild of Saint Luke in Antwerp in the year 1630/1631. He remained active in his birthplace for well over thirty years. In 1635 he got married here.
All Ykens’ dated paintings (1635 until 1663) are from his Antwerp years.
Aged 64, around 1665, Ykens moved to Brussels.
He must have died here circa 1692, over ninety years old.
Frans Ykens had only two or three pupils: Gilliam Dandoy (whom we also have a painting by) in 1640 and Henry de Cleyn in 1646.
Frans’ nephew, Osias II Beert, might also have been a pupil of his. There is only one signed painting known by him, dated 1650. He could not have been a pupil of his own father, for Osias I died too early.
About other Ykens painters
Religious genre scenes mentioned in some inventories as by ‘Ykens’ are thought not to have been painted by our Frans Ykens, but by Jan Ykens (1613 – circa 1679), who might have been a direct cousin.
Jan’s son, Pieter (1648 after 1695), was also a painter, of historical and religious scenes and of some portraits. He was also an important tapestry cartoon painter.
We should also mention here two or possibly three women called Catarina Ykens:
- the first one, Catarina I, was the wife of Frans, the daughter of the painter Lucas I Floquet.
- Catarina II was a daughter of the above mentioned Jan Ykens.
- Finally there might have been a third Catarina.
According to Fred Meijer and Adriaan van der Willigen most paintings by ‘Catarina Ykens’ should be given to Catarina I. Catarina II was a nun, who was also a painter. As to ‘Catarina III’ there is a signed painting, dated 1635, which can not be given to neither of the first two Catarina’s. Could-might she be an until now unknown daughter of Frans and Catarina I?
About our painting
Another fruit still life by Frans Ykens, slightly smaller than ours, painted on copper, was sold in 2002 at Christie’s London for 121.000 €.
In both paintings Ykens painted a butterfly: in our painting one sees a red admiral butterfly, in that other painting a cabbage garden white butterfly.
Our painting was painted in Antwerp in 1649. Ykens was active here from circa 1630 until circa 1665.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is a signed and dated, very colourful and decorative still life.