HONDECOETER, Melchior d'
(b. 1636, Utrecht, d. 1695, Amsterdam)

The Floating Feather

c. 1680
Oil on canvas, 159 x 144 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

This large canvas shows several ducks swimming in a pool in the foreground, on the surface of which floats the feather that gave the painting its popular name. On the left stands a white pelican, among the birds in the background are a peacock and a flamingo.

Melchior d'Hondecoeter was a specialist in painting poultry. In keeping with the circumstances of his rich clientele he moved his scenes from the barnyard to the peacock courtyards and aviaries of stately country mansions. He often painted life-size exotic birds against a background of garden statues, vases or fountains in the pleasure garden of a country retreat.

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