Jan Fyt or Johannes Fijt (1611-1661, Flemish) was a Baroque painter who is considered one of the leading painters of animals in the 17th century along with Frans Snyders, with whom he trained. Born in Antwerp into the wealthy merchant class, in 1630 he became a master of the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke. From 1633-1641 Fyt travelled Europe joining a group of artists in Rome. After his return to Antwerp in 1641, he established his own studio where he worked for the rest of his life. Unlike most artists, Fyt was highly successful and became a rich man.
Fyt’s work concentrates on still-lifes of hunting, game and of animals. His paintings of flowers and fruit are exceptional, but quite rare. During his lifetime Fyt produced approximately 280 works which were popular during his own time and are still highly sought after today.
Fyt’s paintings differ in style from Frans Snyders’ even though they center on the same compositions of hunting and dead game. Fyt was a master at rendering details, and his works are much more delicate than those of Snyders’. Fyt was the first artist to place dead game in the outdoors instead of inside in a kitchen.
The cats depicted in Fyt’s works are sneaky scavengers trying to steal game, and are often caught in battles with dogs that are trying to protect the prized kill for their masters. Be sure to look closely for the cats that are sometimes hard to see.