Frans Paul Jochems was born on 16 April 1880 in Antwerp as fourth child out of eight : four boys and four girls.
His father was a horse-driver at the Antwerp docks; his mother, Helena Raats, did laundry work in order to make a little more money. The family lived in the Terninckgang, in the Sint-Andries quarter in Antwerp.
When he was still very young Frans Jochems proved to be gifted with drawing
and modeling talent.
At the age of 12 he worked for the lithographer Julien ‘t Feld. In the evening he attended courses at the art school Sint-Lucas. There his talent was noticed and he was enabled to study at the Antwerp Academy and the Higher Art Institute.
At the latter he was a pupil of Thomas Vinçotte and later on he worked in the workshop of Frans Joris, with Dupon and Deckers. He seems to have been a “primus perpetuus”. He also obtained the Van Lerius and De Keyser prices.
After his studies Frans Jochems received a lot of assignments for both public and private work. He undertook study trips to Paris (where he was influenced by Rodin) and for some time he worked in London. His fame went over the borders. His most successful period is situated in the period from 1918 up to the world crisis of 1930/31. Then starts a difficult period for a lot of artists, lasting up to the end of the Second World War in 1945.
Frans Jochems had a lot of his works cast by a bronze caster called Frans Albers. Frans Albers ordered him to make a marble statue of his youngest daughter Marguerite. This way he met Frans Albers’ eldest daughter Maria. They married in 1920. The family had two children : Eliane and Luc. Frans Jochems had a house and a large workshop built in the Marie-Josélaan 13 in Berchem, where the family settled in 1923.
Frans Jochems did not have the slightest interest in politics. He had no sympathy whatsoever for any political party. Consequently we do not have to wonder why he was not appointed teacher at the Academy. His life was completely dedicated to his work. He only interrupted his work for contacts with other artists or for visiting exhibitions or museums. He was always ready to help his colleagues, for instance in making enlargements. He possessed giant compasses allowing such enlargements. Around 1920 he had imported this kind of compasses from Germany and introduced them to his colleagues.
Frans Jochems also often went to the Antwerp Zoo (Zoological gardens) to observe and model animals.
Frans Jochems died on 31st January 1949.
His last work, as a signature under his life, was his self-portrait.
At his funeral it appeared how beloved this quiet artist had been, also
with his colleagues.