(b Antwerp, 3 Dec. 1590; d Antwerp, 2 Nov. 1661). The leading Flemish flower painter of his generation. He was a pupil of Jan Brueghel and was enrolled in the Antwerp painters' guild in 1611. In 1614 he became a Jesuit lay brother and in 1625 was ordained a priest. After spending two years at Jesuit headquarters in Rome he returned to Antwerp in 1627 and lived there for the rest of his life, working at his monastery; the words ‘Society of Jesus’ usually follow his signature on his paintings.
He enjoyed considerable fame and his distinguished visitors included the future Charles II of England. Most of his paintings were presented by the Jesuits to dignitaries as tokens of esteem or honour; the recipients in return sent treasures including holy relics and a gold palette and brushes. His work consists mainly of garlands of flowers painted around a religious image (typically a Madonna and Child or a Pietà) by another artist. He collaborated with his friend Rubens in this way. Much rarer are his bouquets of flowers in a glass vase, where brilliant colours stand out against a dark background (A Vase with Flowers, 1643, Gemäldegalerie, Dresden). Their comparative simplicity makes it easier to appreciate his lovely creamy touch (his brushwork was broader than Brueghel's but unerringly sure) and they rank among the most beautiful flower pieces ever painted.
Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)