This is a very rare example of a forest floor still life by Hondecoeter, and the only known example to remain in private ownership. Only two others are recorded: that in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (inv. no. 169) and that dated 1668 in the National Gallery, London (inv. no. 1222). The latter work, of which only the first 'M' of the signature is still legible, was formerly given to Otto Marseus van Schrieck; the attribution to Hondecoeter was first suggested by Bredius and the painting was so catalogued from 1890-1915. In the 1915 and subsequent catalogues, however, the fragmentary signature was wrongly given as 'Mi....' and the picture ascribed to Abraham Mignon. The correct attribution was only re-affirmed by comparison with the Rijksmuseum picture, which is partially signed 'M d hondec.'
The National Gallery painting is, with two others also dated 1668 in the collections of the Cassel and Schwerin Museums (inv. nos. 380 and 505 respectively), one of the earliest known dated works by Hondecoeter (two earlier are known: one, possibly falsely dated 1661 and another from 1663); the Rijksmuseum painting and the present work can be dated to the same period, c. 1668. As can be inferred from the original attribution of the London picture, all three forest floor still lifes clearly show a debt owed to Van Schrieck, who had a strong influence on many of his contemporaries (see, for example, the signed painting by Abraham Begeyn in the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Brunswick, inv. no. 382).
We are very grateful to Mr. Fred Meijer of the RKD for confirming the attribution having inspected the picture in the original.