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Herman Henstenburgh (Dutch, 1667-1726), A Pair of Scenes with Exotic Birds in a Grand Park

  • $ 90,000.00

Herman Henstenburgh (Dutch, 1667-1726)
A Pair of Scenes with Exotic Birds in a Grand Park
Watercolor and gouache on vellum
Signed l. l.: Henstenburgh. fec.
ca. 1690
Vellum size: 17 1/8 x 13 1/4 in.
Frame size: 28 1/2 x 24 1/2 in. 

Herman Henstenburgh (Dutch, 1667-1726)

The Dutch were at the forefront of allegorical and trompe l’œil painting and managed to forge a remarkable synthesis between concern for scientific truth and the exotic decorative aspects of natural history. Imaginative compositions joined flowers and birds with insects and reptiles to create fantastical juxtapositions imbued with symbolic meaning. Snakes, lizards, and frogs had powerful symbolic connotations and were related to Medusa’s theme. Butterflies were also associated with mythology and specifically the story of Psyche and the theme of Vanities. The caterpillar corresponds to man, the chrysalis to death, and the butterfly to the soul after the resurrection.

Herman Henstenburgh produced exemplary works of this genre. He breaks away from the limiting precepts of natural history painting to create a play of lines and colors that can be appreciated not merely for its decorative aspects, but also as a departure from the naturalist’s strictly narrative view towards an art approaching abstraction. Henstenburgh was a pupil of Johannes Bronckhorst, a fellow native of Hoorn in the Netherlands. According to contemporary accounts, his early works imitated those of his master, depicting birds and landscapes. He later broadened his repertoire to include exquisite flower and fruit pieces, and occasional woodland still-lifes. For his flawless draftsmanship and vibrant colors, Henstenburgh won considerable renown even during his lifetime.

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