Melchior de Hondecoeter
* 1636 Utrecht
† 1695 Amsterdam
Melchior de Hondecoeter was born son of the famous painters family de Hondecoeter in Utrecht in 1636. His grandfather was the famous landscape painter Gillis de Hondecoeter. Accordingly, it had never been a question for Melchior de Hondecoeter as to which career he should pursue – so the young Melchior also became a painter.
His father Gijsbert de Hondecoeter taught Melchior de Hondecoeter first lessons in art, the training was later completed by Jan Baptist Weenix, his uncle. It was for his uncle that his works at times show a slightly italianizing notion.
Soon Melchior de Hondecoeter began to focus on hunting still lives and animal scenes. He was particularly fond of painting birds, in doing so, Melchior de Hondecoeter combined exotic and domestic species in a decorative manner. His animal depictions often tell Melchior de Hondecoeter's extensive studies of nature. Many his paintings also show the influence of Frans Snyders, whom de Hondecoeter admired so much. A chronology of his oeuvre and a documentation of his stylistic development is difficult for the lack of dates in his works.
What is known, however, is that paintings by Melchior de Hondecoeter were extremely popular during the artist's lifetime. Not only did they sell well for their exact realism, technical refinement and high decorative value, they were also frequently copied. Many hunting still lives and animal scenes of a lesser quality were inscribed with Melchior de Hondecoeter's signature by another hand.
Melchior de Hondecoeter made most his works in Amsterdam, where he settled after a sojourn to The Hague (1659-1663). He also met and married his wife Susana Tradel there and received civil rights in 1668. In 1695 Melchior de Hondecoeter died in Amsterdam.