I am currently working on an allegorical self portrait, I chose as my totems the Dodo bird and the Peacock; both represent my temperament rather well.
d. 3rd of April 1695
Initially having focused on the paintings of sea creatures, d’Hondecoeter turned his attention to the painting of birds.
Melchior d’Hondecoeter broke from tradition pretty early on in his career, for instead of depicting birds solely as caught game , which had been the rather grisly norm, he depicted them as living beings full of vivacity and delight.
I much prefer this feisty little living squirrel to the admirably painted yet quite dead hare depicted above.
Melchior d’Hondecoeter’s work was well regarded, he was commissioned by William III to paint the royal menagerie at Het Loo Palace.
King William III of England
painting by Sir Godfrey Kneller
Melchior d’ Hondecoeter was also responsible for the following image, clearly a bit of propaganda.
William III’s Lowlands Wars II
Like much of his work, this painting is unsigned; I almost question its authenticity, it lacks the artist’s obvious delight in depicting fowl.
Upon his death part of Melchior d’ Hondecoeter’s estate included works by that other great painter of birds ( and critters) Frans Snyder (1579-1657).Snyder’s best remember as the artist Ruben’s employed to depict animals within his own paintings had an incredible ability to capture the essence of our furred and feathered neighbors.
It is now wonder that Melchior held his work in such esteem.
Snyder clearly delighted in birds as the following illustrates.
Melchior d’Hondecoeter played upon this popular theme himself.
As is apparent I am crazy about this “minor” artist, perhaps even considered a mere craftsman in his day; I can only hope to aspire to the feathered magic wrought by Melchior’s studio.
Perhaps when my painting is complete I will have the audacity to post an image.
Until then the Met has put together this really marvelous “Birding” tour of their holdings, highlighting works that feature birds, I hope you enjoy it.
Believe it or not Melchior has a Facebook page, unfortunately it only has 7 followers including this author, I hope my readers will change that.