Aert Schouman was highly prized for his murals, with their light, airy, atmospheric views of estate gardens, populated with exotic birds. Born in Dordrecht, he was a founding member of the Dordrecht Brotherhood of St Luke in 1736, and the following year recorded his first commission for a large scale decorative scheme, producing a number of such works for patrician homes in his home town, The Hague and Middleburg over the following years. An example of one such scheme is his set of five large scale canvases executed in 1786 for Willem V, Prince of Oranje-Nassau, now in the Stichting Historische Verzamelingen van het Huis Oranje-Nassau, The Hague. As in the present lot, these show the graceful arabesques of birds with bright plumage in flight, and detailed studies of specific species set against a landscape of frothy trees. The heightened naturalism in his paintings set him apart from others working on this scale; at his death he left over 850 studies of birds and animals, all with the same fluidity of execution and scientific precision seen in the present paintings.
A NOTE ON THE PROVENANCE
Geoffrey Bennison (1921-1984) was one of the most celebrated decorators of the twentieth century. With an eye for the overscale and eclectic pieces his clients included Terence Stamp, Lord Weidenfeld and David de Rothschild, such was his appeal and curation of clients, those who succeeded in commissioning him became known as 'the happy few'.