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Melchior d'Hondecoeter (Utrecht 1636-1695 Amsterdam)
THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN 
Melchior d'Hondecoeter (Utrecht 1636-1695 Amsterdam)

A shoveler, a Muscovy duck, a mallard, pochards and other waterfowl with ducklings on the banks of a river, with a pigeon and a bird of prey in the air

Details
Melchior d'Hondecoeter (Utrecht 1636-1695 Amsterdam)
A shoveler, a Muscovy duck, a mallard, pochards and other waterfowl with ducklings on the banks of a river, with a pigeon and a bird of prey in the air
oil on canvas
43 7/8 x 56 in. (111.5 x 142.3 cm.)
Provenance
Anononymous sale, Burnsall's, London, 1758, (11 guineas to the following)
John Warde (1721-1775), Squerries Court, Westerham, Kent, as recorded in his 'Catalogue of Pictures of my own Collecting', Squerries Ms, no. 26 as 'Water Fowl by Hondicoeter', and by descent.
Literature
F. Russell, 'John Warde', Country Life, 4 June 1987, p. 218.
Exhibited
Canterbury, Royal Museum and Art Gallery, Treasures from Kent Houses, 23 September-13 October 1984, no. 8.

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Georgina Wilsenach
Georgina Wilsenach

Lot Essay

Hondecoeter established his style at an early stage and adhered to it throughout his long career. Trained by his father Gijsbert and his uncle Jan Weenix he took up the genre of barnyard and park scenes practised by those artists and carried it to a new level of elegance and technical perfection. This picture is an early work by the artist and can be dated to the 1660s. It has many of the compositional devices favoured by the artist at that time, when he was also influenced by the work of Frans Snyders, whose paintings he collected.

Hondecoeter captures, rather subtly, human interaction in his subjects - the seemingly knowing glances exchanged by a peacock and his mate in the painting sold at Christie's, New York, 26 January 2011, lot 25 ($1,650,000) and the parental attitude of the Muscovy duck in the present picture both demonstrate this. Hondecoeter came to be the greatest bird painter of his generation, his pictures were widely collected and could be found in almost any royal, princely or national collection by the nineteenth century.

John Warde inherited Squerries Court in 1746 on the death of his eponymous father, who had purchased the estate in 1731. A man of varied interests, he was painted by both Devis and Stubbs, and commissioned a view of his brother-in-law William Clayton's house, Harleyford Manor, from Zuccarelli. He regularly purchased Old Master pictures, and his manuscript 'Catalogue of Pictures of my own collecting' documents the way he built up his collection, acquiring ninety-three pictures for a total of £692.8s. Some fifty-four of these remain at Squerries, which is thus a locus classicus of mid-Georgian taste. His acquisitions ranged in scale from two large Luca Giordanos and a masterpiece by Pieter de Ring to a small copy of a van Mieris by Liotard, purchased at the artist's sale in these Rooms. Warde's most ambitious acquisition was the family portrait by Frans Hals now in the Museo de arte Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.

We are grateful to Fred Meijer from the RKD, The Hague, for confirming the attribution on the basis of photographs.

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