HONDECOETER, Melchior de

Creator

HONDECOETER, Melchior de
b. The Netherlands, 1636 - 1695
Melchior de Hondecoeter, a 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 also painted wall hangings with views of buildings and parks. His earliest works are more conscientious, lighter and more transparent than his later ones. At all times he is bold of touch and sure of eye, giving the motion of birds with great spirit and accuracy. Hondecoeter was greatly favoured by the magnates of the Netherlands and in 1659 was made a member of the painters’ academy at The Hague, where he lived until he moved to Amsterdam in 1663. During these years the artist began to specialize in paintings of birds and still lifes with hunting motifs and dead game. His mature style can be related to the work of the animal and still-life painter Frans Snyders, whose paintings Hondecoeter admired and collected. From Snyders, Hondecoeter borrowed the compositional device of locating birds and other animals in the centre of the foreground with others to one side, on occasions cut off by the edge of the canvas. He used this formula throughout his career. All his compositions of this type have a wall, fence, tree or classical ruin that occupies half of the middle ground, while the remainder is occupied by a landscape. Despite repeating this formula in most of his works, his paintings reveal a degree of individuality with variations evident in the animals and birds in the foreground. He also depicted scenes in which the birds are attacked or frightened by other animals, allowing for a depiction of movement. Hondecoeter was a prolific artist and highly regarded in his own lifetime. His works were appreciated for their technical skill and decorative qualities and were much imitated by his contemporaries.

Citation

HONDECOETER, Melchior de, b. The Netherlands, 1636 - 1695, and Melchior de Hondecoeter, a 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 also painted wall hangings with views of buildings and parks. His earliest works are more conscientious, lighter and more transparent than his later ones. At all times he is bold of touch and sure of eye, giving the motion of birds with great spirit and accuracy. Hondecoeter was greatly favoured by the magnates of the Netherlands and in 1659 was made a member of the painters’ academy at The Hague, where he lived until he moved to Amsterdam in 1663. During these years the artist began to specialize in paintings of birds and still lifes with hunting motifs and dead game. His mature style can be related to the work of the animal and still-life painter Frans Snyders, whose paintings Hondecoeter admired and collected. From Snyders, Hondecoeter borrowed the compositional device of locating birds and other animals in the centre of the foreground with others to one side, on occasions cut off by the edge of the canvas. He used this formula throughout his career. All his compositions of this type have a wall, fence, tree or classical ruin that occupies half of the middle ground, while the remainder is occupied by a landscape. Despite repeating this formula in most of his works, his paintings reveal a degree of individuality with variations evident in the animals and birds in the foreground. He also depicted scenes in which the birds are attacked or frightened by other animals, allowing for a depiction of movement. Hondecoeter was a prolific artist and highly regarded in his own lifetime. His works were appreciated for their technical skill and decorative qualities and were much imitated by his contemporaries., “HONDECOETER, Melchior de,” UCSB ADA Museum Omeka, accessed September 25, 2022, http://art-collections.museum.ucsb.edu/items/show/3738.