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Friday, November 11, 2011

Offering of the Day: A Lovely Landscape that includes a Variety of Diverse Bird Species by Johannes Bronckhorst

Johannes Bronckhorst (1648-1727)
A capriccio river landscape with part of a classical rotunda and a pyramid, with swans, a mallard, a heron and a kingfisher
Bodycolor, pen and black ink on paper
Image size:10 1/4 x 11 inches
Paper size: 12 3/4 x 13 inches

The early seventeenth century saw a burgeoning of interest in exotic animals and menageries and aviaries were established across Europe.  The expansion of trade and growing exploration of the world resulted in wild animals being captured and returned to Europe as both objects of curiosity and scientific specimens.  To begin with these were mainly housed as part of royal collections and artists were frequently employed to paint these prized possessions.

Johannes Bronckhorst specialized in watercolors of exotic and indigenous birds, shown either individually or several to a sheet, taking the more scientifically based tradition of artists such as Pieter Holsteijn and developing it in more decorative directions.  Bronckhorst also, more rarely, depicted mammals.

In this beautiful watercolor the full range of Bronckhorst’s skill is spectacularly shown. He forges a remarkable synthesis between a concern for scientific truth and the decorative and exotic aspects of natural history that were highly prized by royal and private clients.  In his presentations, Bronckhorst places the animals within a setting that provides a guide to scale and also an impression of the landscape of their natural habitats.

This striking watercolor is by one of the master's of natural history painting and valuable records showing the beginning of scientific discovery and the appreciation of the aesthetic.

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