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Jacobus Vonck was a painter of still lifes and birds who came from an estimable family of painters of similar subject matter. Jan Vonck 1630-c.1662, was from Amsterdam and had painted hunting still lifes, especially of dead birds, some of which were trompe l’oeil. His son, Elias 1605-1652, had also painted hunting still lifes which were close in style to Jan Weenix.
He was born in Middleburg and was believed to be a pupil of Aert Schouman 1710-1792, who, although only slightly older than Vonck, had established himself as a successful painter of birds and floral still lifes, often on a large scale for incorporation into panels in interiors and produced in a light, airy style. Together with Schouman and Wouter Uytter-Limmege, 1730-1784, Vonck represented the continuation of the line extending back into the 17th century of bird painters such as Melchior de Hondecoeter, Jacobus Victors and Cornelia de Ryck, Dirk Wyntrack and Adriaen van Oolen taking the tradition into the late stages of the 18th century.
Whereas some of the former artists had painted mainly farmyard fowl, Vonck favoured more brightly coloured birds such as the more exotic pheasants, macaws or swans as well as wild birds like jays, hoopoes and green woodpeckers. Often the principal bird will be placed at, or just above, the viewers eyeline. This bird will be on a raised piece of ground or on a stone plinth – a device favoured by Weenix – and often a large ewer and entwined convolvulus or roses as well as other flowers will be incorporated into the piece.
Bibliography:Bird Painting; the Eighteenth Century – Christine M Jackson
Dictionnaire des Peintres – E Benezit
The golden pheasant, also known as Chinese pheasant, is a member of the phasianus family which is the most widespread gamebird in the world. The genus is a native of Eurasia but was introduced to Europe, North America, Africa and elsewhere where it has become established.
The Colchicus or black-necked pheasant, which used to be known as the Old English, is the most common pheasant in Britain and has been present here for at least 900 years.The Golden pheasant originated in the mounatinous forested regions of western China and was introduced to Britain later and, together with other exotic Asiatic breeds, has succesfully interbred with the Colchicus resulting in a varied amalgam of birds with differing plumage. The Golden pheasant in England is best observed in its pure state in the area encompassing northern Suffolk and southern Norfolk, particularly around Thetford Forest.
The Golden Pheasant male has a highly distinctive plumage with a bright red body and golden crest and rump and it measures overall about 100 cms in length of which the tail accounts for about two-thirds. There is group of deep orange feathers around the neck which can open up in display rituals to form a type of cape which covers almost the whole face. The female’s plumage is more like the female Old English although it has a longer and more distinctly barred tail then the latter. The natural wild type is known as “red-golden” to separate it from the form usually encountered in zoos or avaiaries which have often been cross-bred, particularly with the Lady Amherst.
It is somewhat surprising that for a bird with such distinctive appearance, comparatively little is known about its behaviour in the wild. They prefer to live in the dark recesses of dense young conifer plantations and forests and are difficult to locate and feed on the ground but will take off suddenly almost vertcially with a loud clattering of wings and remarkable acceleration. The somewhat ungainly flight is brief however and consequently they spend most of their time on the ground, moving on foot while they search for grains, invertebrates and berries.
THE SILVER PHEASANT
This bird hails from a similar habitat to the Golden but emanates from southern and eastern China and mainland south eastern Asia.
Both the male and female have a red face and red legs and whereas the male has silvery-white plumage on its back and wings, the female is predominatly brown with a blackish brown crest and black and white in the tail. The call of the male is a shrill whistle and the female emits a repeated deep ‘whoor’ sound. In Europe, it is most commonly found in the wild in Germany but it is a popular breed in aviculture.
|Height||33.70 cm||(13.27 inches)|
|Width||45.80 cm||(18.03 inches)|
|External Height||46.00 cm||(18.11 inches)|
|External Width||58.00 cm||(22.83 inches)|