• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 11973

    Old Master and British Paintings Evening Sale

    7 July 2016, London, King Street

  • Lot 18

    Melchior d’Hondecoeter (Utrecht 1636-1695 Amsterdam)

    A pelican, a crowned crane, a curassow, a sarus crane and ducks in a river landscape

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    Melchior d’Hondecoeter (Utrecht 1636-1695 Amsterdam)
    A pelican, a crowned crane, a curassow, a sarus crane and ducks in a river landscape
    signed (?) 'M. d'Hondecoe[...]' (centre)
    oil on canvas
    44 ¾ x 54 in. (116.2 x 137.2 cm.)


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    Hondecoeter was the pre-eminent bird painter of the Dutch Golden Age and his large-scale decorative game-pieces, of which this is a fine example, were highly popular amongst wealthy Amsterdam merchants, who commissioned them to adorn the walls of their town houses and country mansions. They were also amongst the most desirable decorative paintings in Europe, to be encountered in almost any royal, princely or national collection by the 19th century.

    Hondecoeter worked by making ad vivum oil sketches of his favourite birds, captured in various striking or engaging poses, from which studies he would later populate his larger compositional paintings. His mature style owes much to Frans Snyders, the important Flemish animal and still-life painter of a generation earlier, whose work he collected. From Snyders, Hondecoeter borrowed a compositional formula that he used consistently from the late 1660s: birds and animals are seen close up in the centre of the canvas, with others entering from the left or right, their bodies sometimes cropped by the frame, the middle ground blocked by a wall, fence, tree or architectural ruins across one half of the canvas, the remaining side opening to a distant vista.

    Several of the birds depicted in this picture, including the pelican (a rare species at that time), the crowned crane, red breasted goose and muscovy, as well as the detail of the feather in the stream, recur in Hondecoeter’s famous upright picture in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, known as The Floating Feather, which was painted for the Stadholder, William III (1650-1702), later King of England. Indeed, the artist habitually repeated entire passages from one painting to another and often made copies of compositions with only minor variations.

    We are grateful to Fred Meijer, of the RKD in The Hague, for confirming the attribution upon firsthand inspection of the painting.

    Special Notice

    These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. This VAT is not shown separately on the invoice. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction.


    Provenance

    Lady Lawson, Lyulph’s Tower, Penrith, Cumberland; Christie’s, London, 18 July 1924, lot 39 (110 gns. to Colnaghi[?]).
    Comte Fritz von Hochberg, Frutingen; Frederik Muller & Co., Amsterdam, 25 November 1924, lot 48.
    Private collection, Germany, 1965.
    with J. Rosenthal, Amsterdam, 1965.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN COLLECTION


    Literature

    W. de Rooij and B. Meyer-Krahmer (eds.), Melchior d’Hondecoeter 1636-1695, Berlin, 2010, no. 56, illustrated, as ‘Painting lost’.