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Melchior de Hondecoeter

Bird painter, painter, still-life painter, etcher, commercial artist and draughtsman

Born
1636 in Utrecht
Died
1695 in Amsterdam

5 Works by Melchior de Hondecoeter

3 Works based on Melchior de Hondecoeter

Biography

"Melchior d'Hondecoeter was born in 1636 in Utrecht into a dynasty of painters: his grandfather Gillis d'Hondecoeter came from Flanders, probably from Antwerp or Mechelen, and moved with his family first to Delft, later to Utrecht. His speciality, the depiction of forest landscapes, was continued in the next generation by his son Gijsbert, although he increasingly concentrated on the reproduction of animals. In the next generation Gijsbert's son Melchior d'Hondecoeter took over this preference, by shifting completely to the representation of animal pieces. However, he received his artistic training from his uncle Jan Baptist Weenix, who painted mainly hunting still lifes in addition to Italianising landscapes, due to the early death of his father. After his uncle's death Melchior d'Hondecoeter moved to the Hague, presumably because he was looking for buyers in the courtly circles for his magnificent animal plays. His stay in the Hague from 1658 to 1663 is documented by entries in the Confrerie Pictura, the local painters' association, which he joined in 1659. D'Hondecoeter then moved to Amsterdam, where he married Suzanna Tradel on 9th February 1663.

Although he was able to obtain large sums for his large-format, decorative animal plays, the painter died heavily indebted in Amsterdam on 3rd April 1695. One reason for this could be the drunkenness documented by contemporary witnesses, among them his pupil Willem van Royen. His daughter therefore made use of the right to obtain an overview of the estate before accepting the inheritance. The inventories made for this purpose comprised D'Hondecoeter's collection of paintings, which included works by Dutch still life painters such as Otto Marseus van Schrieck and Willem van Aelst, as well as animal pieces by his Flemish role model Frans Snyders. In addition to large wall decorations, D'Hondecoeter also painted trompe-l'œils with deceptively realistic wooden boards on which birds are fastened."

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