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Snayers, Peter

Antwerp (Belgium), 1592 - Brussels (Belgium), 1667

Although there are no records in the Guild of Saint Luke showing him as a pupil of Sebastian Vrancx, it is evident that he received his initial training from this painter. He subsequently joined the Guild as a master around 1612–1613. Just as Vrancx did, he specialised in battle scenes. Even though he produced, at the beginning of his career, small paintings depicting scenes of skirmishes and path robberies of a style similar to Vrancx, he soon transitioned to large paintings of historical sieges which, based on the 16th-century series of battlefields, had a great impact on the production of Flemish tapestries. Snayers’s paintings differ from those of Vrancx in terms of distribution of the composition. Whereas in Vrancx’s paintings the war occupies the centre of the scene, Snayers revises this prevalence. Consequently, he directs the viewer’s attention towards the background of the landscape by selecting a high viewpoint that elevates the horizon line and confers a topographical and precise representation of the war. This depiction simulates in turn the unfolding of a map representing the event. The foreground of his paintings, set on mounds in the terrain, produces a contrast between the background reflecting the battle and the area immediately in front of the viewer, where an anecdotal scene unfolds. The rich colouring of Vrancx’s work is replaced by more homogenous tones covering the entire painting. Although he was never the official painter to the Archdukes Albert and Isabella, evidence shows that he worked for the Infanta, whom he portrayed during a visit to the siege of Breda (Prado). Following the death of Isabella, he worked for Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand, who appointed him court painter, and later for Archduke Leopold Wilhelm. Due to his good relations with the political authorities, his painting was widely recognised and his battle scenes and portraits were particularly appreciated by the military and the courtiers who were close to the court in Brussels. Among these prominent people, special mention shall be given to Ambrogio Spinola, Count of Bucquoy, of whom he produced numerous portraits, and the Marquess of Leganés, who owned, in addition to portraits, vast series of battlefields by Snayers on the Thirty Years’ War, similar to those preserved in the Museo del Prado. On the other hand, Snayers’s artistic relationships with other painters included that with Van Dyck, whose portrait he painted (Alte Pinakothek, Munich), and that with Rubens, who selected him for the production of two canvases from the series on Henry IV (1628–1630). He was an artist of great prestige, renowned as a master of other battle scenes painters, including Adan Frans van der Meulen, who was his pupil from 1646. In addition to the numerous battle scenes and illustrations of 17th-century European wars by Snayers, the Museo del Prado houses Mallard Hunters, an example of his activity as a landscape painter, to which he actively dedicated himself in the 1640s (Pérez Preciado, J. J. in: E.M.N.P., 2006, tomo VI, pp. 2017-2018).

Artworks (17)

Aerial View of the Siege of Breda
Oil on canvas, First half of the XVII century
Snayers, Peter
Toma de Saint-Venant
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Snayers, Peter
Cazadores de ánades
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Snayers, Peter
Sitio de Bar-le-Duc
Oil on canvas, XVII century
Snayers, Peter
Isabel Clara Eugenia in the Site of Breda
Oil on canvas, Ca. 1628
Snayers, Peter
Cacería de Felipe IV
Oil on canvas, 1636 - 1638
Snayers, Peter
Cacería de Felipe IV
Oil on canvas, 1636 - 1638
Snayers, Peter
Cacería del Cardenal-Infante
Oil on canvas, 1636 - 1638
Snayers, Peter
Cacería de Felipe IV
Oil on canvas, 1636 - 1638
Snayers, Peter
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