Melchior d'Hondecoeter was trained by his father Gijsbert and his uncle Jan Weenix and took up the genre of barnyard and park scenes practiced by those artists and, absorbing also the influence of Frans Snyders, carried it to a new level of elegance and technical perfection. Although some of the birds in his compositions were known in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century, many were of an exotic variety - such as the parrot and the pelican in the present composition. The inclusion of the monkey brings an allegorical element to this work and most directly shows the influence of Snyders, who so often depicted this mischievous animal. In this composition the stately peacock communicates with his mate while a variety of fowl that surround them respond in a cacophony, showing Hondecoeter's skill at stimulating more than the visual sense of his viewer.
We are grateful to Fred Meijer, of the RKD in The Hague, for confirming the attribution upon first-hand inspection of the work (private communication, 14 December 2010).