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Artistic period 1501 to 1550




ca. 1480 (Mechelen)


1553 (Mechelen)


Frans Crabbe (* about 1480 in Mechelen; † 1553 in Mechelen) was a Flemish copper engraver of the early Renaissance of the region. He began engraving as an art form around 1521, probably after Albrecht Dürer's journey through the Netherlands at that time. Dürer had introduced himself in 1521 at the court of the governor of the Habsburg Netherlands and regent Margarete of Austria in Mechelen. Margarete was known as a patron of the arts.

It was convincingly proven that Frans Crabbe was the master with the crab, a copper engraver who signed his works with a small crab. The engravings attributed to Crabbe depict traditional religious themes such as Christ the Man of Sorrows, in which the artist begins a fusion of late medieval formal language with the language of the Renaissance and introduces a new representation of the figures and their bodies influenced by classical antiquity. He also took up many secular themes and depicted everyday scenes such as lansquenets or simple peasants.

Crabbe can be regarded as one of the "ancestors" of Dutch genre representation. His engravings influenced the subsequent painters of the Golden Age of Dutch painting such as Rembrandt. They are examples of the importance of printmaking in the Burgundian-Habsburg Netherlands of their time.

Although it is recognizable that Frans Crabbe produced his popular themes for a wide market, only a few multiple prints of his works have survived.