As the son of the landscape painter Gillis de Hondecoeter and father and teacher of the renowned bird painter Melchior d’Hondecoeter, Gijsbert Gillisz. de Hondecoeter belonged to an artistic family that spanned generations. Gijsbert worked with his father in Amsterdam until 1629, the year in which he returned to Utrecht and became a member of the city’s painters guild, residing there for the remainder of his life.
This panel, which dates to Gijsbert’s early maturity, is among the largest and most complex compositions by him known today. A number of the animals likely derive from preparatory drawings by Gijsbert or his father, as they recur in other paintings by the two. A nearly identical cow to the one seen in the left foreground, though of different color, features in the central middle ground of Gillis’ Elijah fed by the ravens of 1624 (The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg) and again in a small, undated panel sold Sotheby’s, London, 1 November 2007, lot 80. Similarly, the hound viewed in profile in the right middle ground of this painting likewise appears in a work, now variously given to both artists, which was recently sold with an attribution to an artist in the circle of Roelant Savery (Christie’s, London, 6 July 2005, lot 41). Finally, two of the waterfowl in the central foreground recur in Gijsbert’s Garden of Eden of 1644 (Sotheby’s, New York, 22 January 2004, lot 191), though the nesting bird is viewed in the opposite direction.