Paintings by Frans Floris in the Ximenez House

Among Ximenez's inherited or newly acquired works were two now untraceable paintings by Frans Floris (1517-1570), renowned for his Italian maniera and recognized as the most innovative painter of Antwerp during his time. A Hercules and the Centaurs is recorded for the upstairs room above the kitchen; and "three painted tronies done by [Frans] Floris of Susanna and the two Elders" ("drye geschilderde Troniën gedaen by Floris van Susanna ende de twee Ouder[lingen]") are mentioned for the dining room.

The three tronies may refer to fragments of or, quite possibly, to a single scene showing David's chaste wife taking her bath in her husband's garden while being watched by two lustful elders. The Feroni collection (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence) owns the only still extant painting of that subject signed by Floris. The work is first mentioned in the 1675 inventory of the collection of the Marquis Francesco Feroni (1614/16-1696) who, during his extended stay in Amsterdam (from the 1640s to 1672) as representative of the Medici, had built a fortune through bulk grain trade, investments in Portuguese cargoes, and slave trade. Nothing, however, is known of the provenance of this painting before 1675; it is therefore impossible to determine whether it may or may not be linked to Ximenez's "tronies."

A painting showing Hercules preventing drunken Centaurs from abducting women formed part of a ten-part series of the Labors of Hercules executed by Floris for the Antwerp merchant Nicolaas Jongelinck. The relationship of the painting owned by Ximenez to the series originally made for Jongelinck's house is, however, not clear. Ximenez's painting could of course also have been a copy of the printed picture in the series Cornelis Cort engraved after Floris's paintings.

Christine Göttler, University of Bern


Caneva, Caterina, ed. La Collezione Feroni. Dalle Province Unite agli Uffizi. Florence: Centro Di, 1998.

Wouk, Ed. "Cornelis Cort after Frans Floris, The Labors of Hercules." Hieronymus Cock. The Renaissance Print. Eds. Joris van Grieken, Ger Luijten, and Jan van der Stock. Exh. cat., M - Museum Leuven. Brussels: Mercatorfonds, 2013. 166-171.

Van de Velde, Carl. Frans Floris (1519-1570). Leven en Werken. 2 vols. Brussels: Paleis der Academiën, 1975. Vol. I, 299-301, cat. 161.

Frans Floris, Susanna and the Elders, c. 1563, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Image: © SCALA, Florence.