• Birds in a Park

    Artist:
    Hondecoeter, Melchior de. 1636-1695
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    135x155 cm

Hondecoeter, Melchior de. 1636-1695

Birds in a Park

Holland, 1686

Melchior de Hondecoeter, a celebrated Dutch animalist, came from a family that gave the world several gifted painters. His father and grandson were artists, while works by his famous uncle – Jan Weenix – can today be found in the collections of the world’s greatest museums. Yet in his youth, Melchior de Hondecoeter was preparing for a career in the Church. He received an excellent education and, contemporaries inform us, possessed outstanding gifts as an orator. There is no doubt that he would have succeeded as a preacher, but living in a home where someone was always painting pictures, where clients and other artists came visiting, where the methods and styles of various schools and tendencies were being discussed, he fell in love with painting. Performing minor tasks and then working literally as an assistant to his father and uncle, Hondecoeter quite quickly acquired the necessary skills and joined the guild himself. He was particularly good at depicting animals. He painted them as expressively as people, not only paying attention to the colourfulness and decorative structure of his compositions, but also creating elaborate scenes that carried a subtext for those who understood artfully contrived allegories and symbols. For example, the pelican was an embodiment of self-sacrifice, while the varicoloured cassowary represented unpredictability. The composition might be interpreted as a combination of those two characteristics: you never know who might come to your aid and when, but you should always believe in it.

Title:

Birds in a Park

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

135x155 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage before 1797; the collection of Catherine the Great

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-1042

Category:

Collection:

User collections including this work of art: