Spotting the fable in the bird paintings of Jan Fijt (1611-1661) and tapestries

Thomas Balfe, 18 December 2011

In 2011, it was exactly 400 years ago that Jan Fijt was born in Antwerp. The anniversary provided a fine opportunity to take a closer look at this little-known but highly gifted and influential animal painter!

Fijt trained under Frans Snyders and became famous mainly for his hunting scenes, his still lifes with hunting trophies, and compositions with birds. In this lecture, the British scholar Thomas Balfe took the audience on a quest for the literary sources that are key to understanding these scenes. Taking three well-known paintings by Jan Fijt as his point of departure, he sketched the relationship between text and image, which proved to be richer and more layered than one would have assumed.