• NameJan Fyt
  • Sexmale
  • Nationality/DatesFlemish, born 1611, dead 1661
BiographyJan Fyt was a painter of still lifes, animals and flowers.
The son of an affluent merchant, Fyt was active
for most of his career at Antwerp, where he was baptized
on 15 March, 1611. He is listed in the records
of the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke for 1621–1622 as
the pupil of Hans van den Berghe, by whom no surviving
works are known. He then completed his training
with Frans Snyders, who determined his subject
and early style. He remained with Snyders for a year
after becoming a master in the guild in 1629–30. In
1633 and 1634 he was in Paris: he then travelled to
Italy c. 1635, where he worked in Venice and Rome
before returning to Antwerp by 1641. In April 1642
he may have briefly visited the northern Netherlands.
In 1652 he is mentioned as dean of the Antwerp
Guild of Romanists. He married in Antwerp in 1654
and pursued a highly industrious and successful career
there, until his death on 11 September 1661.
Fyt’s earliest works, which are not known, were
presumably close to those of his teacher, Frans Snyders,
and several hunting scenes from Snyders’ circle
have been hypothetically ascribed to Fyt (Robels).
After his trip to Italy, he adopted a more restricted,
tonal palette, loosened his technique and increased
the movement and asymmetry in his paintings. Fyt
specialized in game pieces – sometimes in an outdoor
setting, sometimes with added fruit and/or flowers –
and these were already commanding unusually high
prices during his lifetime (the highest recorded price
for one of his still lifes is 370 guilders). He was a prolific
artist who also painted animal fables, hunting and
poultry-yard scenes, and the occasional flower and
fruit still lifes. Fyt signed most of his paintings, often
dating them too. Fyt regularly produced replicas of
his compositions, sometimes with the help of studio
assistants. The best of his many pupils was Pieter
Boel; others included Jeronimus Pinckaert, Jacob van
de Kerckhoven (1649–1650) and Balthasar Treouts
(1659). He collaborated on occasion with history
painters such as Erasmus Quellinus II, Thomas
Willeboirts Bosschaert, Pieter Thys and possibly also
Jacob Jordaens. Fyt became one of the most successful
artists in Antwerp, his paintings were in demand
both locally and abroad and he greatly influenced the
development of still life painting in the Netherlands
and Italy.