Exhibition

Birds by Melchior d’Hondecoeter

The intro of the expo Birds of Paradise at MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp with a painting by Melchior d'Hondecoeter and a tableau of 23 stuffed birds, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

The intro of the expo Birds of Paradise at MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp with a painting by Melchior d’Hondecoeter and a tableau of 23 stuffed birds, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

The introduction to the exhibition is a painting by Melchior d’Hondecoeter, a loan from elaborate collection the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp is currently undergoing major renovation, which will take until the end of 2017.

The painting is presented next to a tableau with 23 stuffed birds from the collection of the Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen (KBIN – Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences) in Brussels.

The birds on the painting and on the tableau are widely varied. Their feathers have various functions and bring different connotations to mind: the peacock and the owl each have very different types of feathers and people associate them with completely different characteristics.

Birds by Melchior d'Hondecoeter (Utrecht 1636 - Amsterdam 1965) a loan by the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp at the Bords of Paradise expo at MoMu

Birds by Melchior d’Hondecoeter (Utrecht 1636 – Amsterdam 1965) a loan by the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp at the Bords of Paradise expo at MoMu

A large duck at the centre of this painting dominates the entire scene. It appears to be an exceptionally large Old Dutch Tufted Duck. This type of duck is sometimes also referred to as a Red-crested Pochard or King’s duck as this particular species was favoured to inhabit the beautiful palace ponds. The completely white version in particular, seen here swimming up with its offspring, was highly favoured. On the bank you can see a Common Shelduck coming to take a look with other ducks nearby. At the left in a tree one can see a magpie a pigeon flying around at the top. Although these are not exotic species, the birds are associated with luxury and a refined lifestyle.