(b. 1576, Courtrai, d. 1639, Utrecht)
Landscape with Birds1628
Oil on panel, 42 x 57 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Savery's painting, outmoded both in type and composition, adheres to the style of late Mannerism. Landscape as an imaginary combination of heterogeneous, natural and invented components, had by now been replaced by details of familiar surroundings, and animal images that seem to be taken straight from the pages of a zoological almanac had given way to portraits of domestic pets.
Savery's painting calls for a close reading and an appreciative eye. His art lies in his scholarship and well-founded knowledge, reflecting the interest of the age in the natural sciences and exotic phenomena. The new Dutch painting, on the other hand, calls for a more sensually perceptive and contemplative approach. In its narrative, the landscape with birds is comparable to those Flemish floral still lifes which, for a period, presented botanic diversity in great detail. Savery's compositional form has its origins in the paradise portrayals of the 16th century, in which Adam and Eve are shown in harmony with the animal world around them. Picturesque ruins in the manner of Maerten van Heemskerck are also common features, soon to be adopted by the Italianate landscape painters. Savery's prolific drawings are spontaneous and precise, individual studies which he then transferred to his paintings.