Who was Melchior d’Hondecoeter?
Melchior d'Hondecoeter (c. 1636 – 3 April 1695), Dutch animalier painter, was born in Utrecht and died in Amsterdam. After the start of his career, he painted virtually exclusively bird subjects, usually exotic or game, in park-like landscapes. Hondecoeter's paintings featured geese (brent goose, Egyptian goose and red-breasted goose), fieldfares, partridges, pigeons, ducks, northern cardinal, magpies and peacocks, but also African grey crowned cranes, Asian sarus cranes, Indonesian yellow-crested cockatoos, an Indonesian purple-naped lory and grey-headed lovebirds from Madagascar.
Hondecoeter began his career with a different speciality from that by which he is usually known. He produced sea-pieces. One of his earliest works is « Tub with Fish », dated 1655, in the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum. Hondecoeter soon abandoned fish for fowl. He acquired celebrity as a painter of birds only, which he represented not exclusively, like Johannes Fyt, as the gamekeeper's perquisite after a day's shooting, or stock of a poulterer's shop, but as living beings with passions, joys, fears and quarrels, to which naturalists will tell us that birds are subject. Without the brilliant tone and high finish of Fyt, the latter's Dutch rival's birds are full of action; and, as Burger says, « Hondecoeter displays the maternity of the hen with as much tenderness and feeling as Raphael the maternity of Madonnas ».