Melchior d' Hondecoeter

The painter Melchior d’Hondecoeter 1636 – 1695
The life of Melchior d’Hondecoeter
Melchior was born in 1636 in Utrecht. He is the son of Gijsbert Gillisz d’Hondecoeter (1604-1653) and Marie Melchiors Hulsman (1611-1651) and grandson of Gilles Claesz d’Hondecoeter who had fled to Delft from Mechelen/Belgium for economic reasons.

His grandfather and father were both painters as well. Melchior’s father taught him the art of painting and after the death of his father his uncle, Jan Baptist Weenix, took over. Melchior is very religious and sometimes there are doubts about what Melchior wants to become, a painter or a preacher.

When Melchior moved to live with his sister in The Hague after the death of his uncle Jan Baptist in 1659, Melchior became a member of the newly founded painting society “Pictura” and of the Sint Lucasgilde.

In 1663 Melchior moves to Amsterdam where he marries Susanne Tradel. They lived on Lauriergracht, Prinsengracht and Lijnbaansgracht. In 1686 Melchior bought a court house in Vreeland. To escape the hustle and bustle in his house (his wife’s sisters have also come to live with them) Melchior mostly outdoors, in the inn and in the garden of the Lijnbaansgracht.

Melchior d’Hondecoeter dies on April 3 1695 in the house of his only daughter Isabel in the Warmoesstraat in Amsterdam and is buried in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam. The inheritance left by Melchior is refused by his son-in-law because he thought that a lot of debts would have been left behind. However, Melchior did not leave any debts behind but almost 50 paintings, including 2 portraits of Michelangeo
The work of Melchior d’Hondecoeter
Melchior learns the trade of his father who paints still lifes and paintings of nature, just like his grandfather. But those were forest landscapes with animals in the background while his father was more focused on the animals themselves. Melchior places the animals even more in the foreground and by placing balustrades and other secretions he gives depth to his paintings. Melchior also painted looser, more detailed and more colourful.

When Melchior was taught by his uncle after the death of his father, his works often become huntbuit still lifes and Italianiser. Later he focuses on painting poultry and exotic birds. Melchior consciously chosed to paint animals because that wasn’t done much and it became popular. His works were closely linked to the animal collections, aviaries and fairs of the rich citizens that were fashionable in the Golden Age. His wall decorations fit in well with this and Melchior benefits from it. He paints for king William III, among others. One of these works is the Menagerie from ca. 1690, which was placed above the door in the private rooms of William III in ‘t Loo.

From 1670 Melchior allows the background to play a role and instead of a farmyard he paints Italian views and buildings.

Among the pupils of Melchior is not only his nephew Jan Weenix but also Adriaen Coorte.
Would you like a masterpiece of Melchior d’Hondecoeter on your wall?
Do you want one of Melchior’s masterpieces on your wall? Take a look at his paintings and choose your favourite painting in the desired size.

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