barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham


MELCHOIR D’HONDECOETER (1636-1695)

A Hen with Chicks, a Rooster and Pigeons

Amsterdam, about 1675

Oil on canvas

96.5 x 78.7 cm

 

Hondecoeter was the most important specialist bird painter of the day.  Here, he typically combines a faithful depiction of different species, based on a striking technique, with a subtle characterisation of the birds.

Each chick has a different personality, ranging from upright and confident to shy and retiring, amounting to an almost human drama.  In the centre, the mother hen catches our eye as in a portrait, whilst the rooster keeps a fatherly watch over everything.  The artist includes his trademark stray feathers in the foreground.

 

Purchased 2001, with generous assistance from the Resource/V&A Purchase Grant Fund (No.2001.2)