Frans Francken the Younger is the best-known member of an extended artistic family that worked in Antwerp from the late sixteenth to the late seventeenth century. Born in 1581, he almost certainly studied with his father, Frans Francken the Elder (c. 1542-1616), before becoming a master in the Antwerp Saint Luke's Guild in 1605. In 1615/1616 he served as its deken. In 1627 he became a member of the Antwerp militia company De Oude Handboog.
Francken was an extremely productive and imaginative artist who specialized in expressively rendered small-scale religious and mythological scenes. He also painted larger altarpieces for Catholic churches. His depictions of collectors' cabinets introduced a genre of painting that influenced a number of artists, including Jan Brueghel the Elder and David Teniers the Younger. Francken ran a large and productive workshop, where he was assisted by a number of pupils, including his sons Frans III (1607-1667), Hieronymus III (1611-after 1661), and Ambrosius III (c. 1614-1662). Also active in his studio were his brothers Thomas (1574-c. 1626), Hieronymus the Younger (1578-1623), and Ambrosius the Younger (c. 1590-1632). Francken painted many works for the art dealer Christian van Immerzeel, who sold them to Spanish collectors.
Francken frequently collaborated with other artists. For example, he painted figures in landscapes by Abraham Govaerts (1589-1626) and Joos de Momper II (1564-1635) and in architectural scenes by Bartholomeus van Bassen (c. 1560-1652) and Peeter Neeffs the Elder. He also collaborated with flower painters, among them Jan Brueghel the Elder, Jan Brueghel the Younger (1601-1678), and Andries Danielsz (active c. 1600-1625). [This is the artist's biography published in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]
Branden, Franz Joseph van den. Geschiedenis der Antwerpsche Schilderschool. Antwerp, 1883: 615-619.
Härting, Ursula Alice. Studien zur Kabinettbildmalerei der Frans Francken II. 1581-1642. Hildesheim, Zurich, and New York, 1983.
Härting, Ursula Alice. Frans Francken der Jüngere (1581-1642): Die Gemälde mit kritischen OEuvrekatalog. Freren, 1989.
Wheelock, Arthur K., Jr. Flemish Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 2005: 108.