Jan Frans Simons
Antwerpen 5 - 9 - 1855 / Brasschaat 21 - 2 - 1919

Jan Frans Simons was born the night of 4 to 5 september 1855 in Antwerp. He was the youngest descendant of four children in the Simons family. After three girls, a son was more than welcome. His parents, grain dealers, were at that time living on the Aardendijk nr. 65, which in the early years was near the Oude Leeuwenrui and the storehouses of Saint-Felix.

When Jan Frans Simons was a teenager, he always wanted to draw. Though the Simons father wanted his son to become a salesman, the young fellow dreamed of being an artist. After a few grain- and fruit deals, his parents took over a brewery in Brasschaat. When his father died, Jan Frans Simons had to run this industry on his own. The buildings were sold when Simons started building a new house on the Bredabaan, Villa Simons - Villa Rubens, nr. 570 for this moment, district of Driehoek.

For short, the house served as a hotel restaurant De Notelaar. Since october 1997, the buildings do not only have the new name Lucullus, but they also got a new purpose. The new owner, restaurateur, now uses the buildings as drawing- and festivity rooms.

In 1879, the 24 year old artist made his debut on an exposition in Antwerp with Jo, her darling, a painting which represents a young farmer's wife, who's bringing her calf something to drink. It got some bitter critics but it also received some very deserving compliments. Jan Frans Simons is well known because of his difference in folk scenes. There's a variation in paintings like The Ox races, The Work accident, A Holy day Procession in Brasschaat, The Swine slaughter and The Congolese. His works also contain a triptych, in wich he presents The Wild, The Civilized and The Animals. There are many different paintings and pictures in public possession.

Simons was not only painting Ox races and Holy day Processions, he also was a very excellent portrait painter. The inventory list of portraits of notabilities and aristocrats, as there are doctors and lawyers, high magistrates and army officers, mayors and senators, children of all ages, nobly born and not nobly born ladies, is too complicated to mention completely. Even King Albert I once came to model in Antwerp for his portrait sitting on a horse. Frans Simons was a well-bred but also a loyal and social citizen, straightforward and candid in company, who never doubted to give his fellow-man a hand.

World War I, was a miserable time for the cheerful artist. His health became affected because of a three month stay in prison under German occupation. He received a condemnation to pay a penance of thousand marks. The German domination disliked the battle scene 'His dying eye still recognized me', because there were German peg helmets painted. Though, they left the painting untouched.

After the trials and privations from World War I, Jan Frans Simons died in Brasschaat on the 21 of February 1919. Ever since he rests in peace in the cemetery of Brasschaat - Maria-ter-Heide. His wife and three daughters were also buried in the family ground.

An illustrated biography of this artist, only written in Dutch, is published and a couple of his works are available in a series of 6 postcards, both of them by the Jan Frans Simons society.

Photogallery: Alley - Amorous couple - Anniversary - Belle epoque lady - Cargo-boat in the port - Christ - Clementina Ritschie - Communicante - Corn flowers - Country-woman - Cow guardian - Cow on the heathland - Creek - Creek - Farm at Eppeghem - Farm Ballemans - Farm 'den Elshout' - Farmers family - Flirt - Girl with hooded coat - Girl with hooded coat - House Delphine - Katjeskelder - Landscape of the 'Kempen' - Landscape of the 'Kempen' - Mother De Mont - Old Antwerp - Pigeons - Port of Antwerp - Portrait of a lady - Rural burial - Small flag hangs out it's village fair - Still life - Summer landscape - Sunset on the heathland - The great road on a winter day - Tilla Simons - Two friends - Visibility of a farm - Winter landscape - Winter visibility - Young farmers couple

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