Hondekotter, Melchior

, the son and grandson of two Dutch painters of considerable reputation, was born, at Utrecht in 1636, and carefully trained up to the profession by his father. He chose the same subjects; but, in his manner, he surpassed not only his master, but even the best of his contemporaries, in a very high degree. Till he was seventeen years of age he practised under his father’s direction, and accustomed himself to paint several sorts of birds; but he was particularly pleased to represent cocks, hens, ducks, chickens, and peacocks, which he described in an elegant variety of actions and attitudes. After the death of his father, in 1653, he received some instructions from his uncle John Baptist Weeninx; but his principal and best instructor was nature, which he studied with intense application, and that enabled him to give to every animal he painted such truth, such a degree of force, expression, and life, as seemed to equal nature itself; nor did any artist take more pains to study every point that might conduce to the perfection of his art. His pencil was wonderfully neat and delicate; his touch light, his colouring exceedingly natural, lively, and remarkably transparent; and the feathers of his fowls were expressed with such a swelling softness, as might readily and agreeably deceive the eye of any spectator. It is reported, that he had trained up a cock to stand in any ajttitude he wanted to describe, and that it was his custom to place that creature near his easel; so that, at the motion of his hand, the bird would fix itself in the proper posture, and would continue in that particular position, without the smallest perceptible alteration, for several hours at a time.

The landscapes which he introduces as the back grounds of his pictures, are adapted with peculiar judgment and skill, and admirably finished; they harmonize with his subject, and always increase the force and the beauty of his principal objects. His touch was very singular in imitating the natural plumage of the fowls he painted; which not only produced a charming effect, but also may prove serviceable to an intelligent observer, to assist him in determining which are the genuine pictures of this master, | and which are impositions. The works of Hondekotter are justly in very great request and estimation, and they generally afford a large price, almost in proportion to their value. He died 1695, aged 59. 1


Pilkington.—D’Argenville, vol. III.