Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- This is a still life painting. Still life paintings depict natural (usually nonliving) or human-made objects. This type of painting was popular in the Netherlands in the 17th century.
- This scene depicts a market stall on a quay (pronounced key). A quay is a structure on the shore of a harbor where ships dock to load and unload cargo or passengers.
- Frans Snyders was a Flemish artist who specialized in painting still lifes and market scenes.
- Snyders lived and worked in Antwerp, a major port city in Europe in the 17th century. The market scene he depicted in this painting signifies the city’s financial success.
- This work was created during the Eighty Years’ War. It was a period of conflict between Spain and the Netherlands. The two ships (one flying a Dutch flag and the other flying a Spanish flag) in the background represent the ongoing conflict in the region during that time.
Still life paintings gained popularity in the Netherlands during the 17th century. The subjects of still life paintings include flower bouquets, banquet tables, and market stalls. Still lifes often contain visual clues about what was happening in religion, politics, or society at the time in which they were painted.
When this painting was created, Dutch colonization and trade had brought wealth and a variety of imported goods to port cities. This scene depicts a market stall in Antwerp, a major port city in Europe at the time. The overabundance of the market stall and the port shown in the background represent the city’s success during the Dutch Golden Age.
Flemish artist Frans Snyders is best known for his paintings of still lifes and market scenes. His compositions often include game animals, or wild animals that are hunted. Snyders painted Market Scene on a Quay during the Eighty Years’ War. It was a period of conflict between Spain and the Netherlands that lasted from 1568 to 1648. The Spanish king wanted to convert the region to Catholicism. This was rejected by many people in the country, since a large portion of the population was Protestant. When the war ended, the Netherlands gained its independence from Spain.
There are two ships in the background of this painting. Snyders included the flags of both Spanish Flanders and the Netherlands on the masts of the ships. This imagery represents the conflict that was happening in the region.
Snyders and his workshop assistants often painted large-scale scenes of outdoor markets. This painting is more than 11 feet wide. Snyders sometimes collaborated with other famous Flemish painters, including Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacob Jordaens.
Resources for Teachers:
- Read an article about the history of still life painting in Northern Europe.
- Read an article about Frans Snyders.
- Read an article about the conflict between the Netherlands and Spanish Flanders.
Resources for Students: