Francken, Hieronymus III
37.000 €

Belshazzar’s Feast
Oil on panel : 33,2 X 49,7 cm
Unsigned
Frame : 52,0 X 68,2 cm
 
A label on the backside of the panel mentions that Abraham Bredius (1855 – 1946) had given an attribution to Frans Francken II, 21/06/1928. Frans Francken II was the father of Hieronymus III.
 
I would like to thank Prof.-Dr. Joost van der Auwera from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels and Prof.-Dr. Jan De Maere from the Flemish University Brussels who have both confirmed the attribition to Hieronymus Francken III.
 
 

About Hieronymus Francken III
 
Flemish painter
Antwerp 1611 – after 1661
 
Painter of religious subjects.
Pupil of his father, Frans II (Antwerp 1581 – 1642 Antwerp). Frans II was an important history painter of biblical, mythological and allegorical subjects. He also painted altar scenes and innovative subjects such as collector’s cabinet interiors or witches’ scenes.
 
Hieronymus III belonged to an important family of painters in Antwerp, divided over five generation:
- none of the paintings of Nicolas Francken (circa 1510/20 – 1596) have survived;
- three of his sons were painters: Hieronymus I, Frans I and Ambrosius I;
- four sons of Frans I also became painters: Thomas, Hieronymus II, Frans II (best-known member of the family) and Ambrosius II;
- three sons of Frans II were painters: Frans III, our Hieronymus III and Ambrosius III;
- finally for Constantyn Francken, son of our Hieronymus III, his father died too young to give him lessons in painting.
 
Our painter was, just as his brothers strongly influenced by his father. Typical of Hieronymus III are his round shouldered figures and his bright, radiant colours.
 
Only two signed and not really typical works are known by him:
- an early work from the National Gallery of Oslo;
- a huge painting at the church of Saint Andrew in Balen.
 
About the prophet Daniel 
 
Daniel is a biblical figure, hero of the Book of Daniel. He was one of the Jewish noblemen carried off to Babylon in 606 BC by the Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II to be trained as an advisor to the Babylonian court. 
 
According to the Book of Daniel he served under three foreign kings.
 
- He interpreted two nightmares of king Nebuchadnezzar II: about a huge statue made of four materials (standing for the fall of the king’s empire) and about a huge tree cut down (standing for the king’s insanity which will last for seven years). Daniel also witnessed how three of his Jewish friends survived their execution in the fiery furnace and how the king then acknowledged the power of the god of the Jews.
 
- Daniel interpreted the handwriting on the palace’s walls for “king” Belshazzar. Actually Belshazzar was never a king, nor was he the son of Nebuchadnezzar II. He was the son of Nabonidus, one of the successors of Nebuchadnezzar II.
 
- Finally under the new king, Darius the Mede, jealous officials had Daniel convicted to be thrown into the lion’s den for he was praying to his own god. Daniel was saved. 
 
It is only at a late age that Daniel became a prophet, being given four important visions about four important empires that are to be replaced by God’s kingdom.
 
About the mysterious handwriting on the walls of Belshazzar’s palace
 
October 5th 539 BC “king” Belshazzar celebrated a great feast at the royal palace palace while his capital was being besieged by the Medes and the Persians. He ordered that the sacred golden and silver vessels from the Temple of Jerusalem should be brought so that his party could use them; they drunk from them while praising their own, Babylonian gods. 
 
Suddenly a hand started writing words on the palace’s wall in Aramaic. While his own wise men, diviners and magicians, could not interpret the written message, Daniel could. He told Belshazzar his blasphemy would be punished and that Babylon would fall. That very night Belshazzar was killed by the Persian king Cyrus, the city fell and thus ended the Neo-Babylonian empire and the Babylonian captivity.
 
The Book of Daniel compares the attitude of both Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. While the first one was humbled by God, was driven mad and finally acknowledged the ultimate power of the Jewish god, the second one learned nothing from that example and was punished therefore.
 
About our painting
 
Belshazzar is entertaining a group of magnificently dressed people; his wife sits to his right.
The sacred vessels from the Temple of Jerusalem stand in the centre background, others in the foreground and Belshazzar is also holding one. 
Out of the mysterious smoke in the background, left of the vessels, appears a small hand, the hand of God, at the very moment that Belshazzar lifts his cup for a toast praising his own gods instead of Jahweh. He is the only one who sees the hand appear.
 
Hieronymus Francken III has created a magnificent image of the Neo-Babylonian court, inspired by the contemporary Turkish court, at a time when Europe did not know yet the tales of Thousand and one nights. 
 
Why should you buy this painting?
 
Because is an absolute treat, a marvelous, exotic, Flemish Baroque jewel.
Comparative paintings
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