Johannes Bronckhorst (Dutch, 1648-1727), Parrots
Johannes Bronckhorst (Dutch, 1648-1727)
Watercolor and gouache on vellum
Signed I.e.: J. B. fee. lower right
Vellum size: 8 3/4 x 12"
Frame size: 14 x 17 1/2"
Johannes Bronckhorst was born in Leiden in 1648 to artist Pieter van Bronckhorst. Johannes learned to paint from his father who was a sought after historical painter for churches and temples.
According to Dutch Golden Age biographer Arnold Houbraken, Pieter died when Johannes was thirteen. Without close family, the young man was sent to work as a pastry baker for a cousin in Haarlem. While he developed his pastry trade, he continued to draw as a hobby. Johannes eventually married and settled in Hoorn where he was able to maintain his pastry career while also pursuing his passion: watercolor painting.
In Hoorn, Bronckhorst specialized in watercolors of exotic and indigenous birds, shown either individually or several to a sheet, taking the more scientifically based tradition of artists such as Pieter Holsteijn and developing it in more decorative directions. Bronckhorst also, more rarely, depicted mammals. He also trained the next generation of natural history painters, including Hendrik Graauw and Herman Henstenburgh.
It is in the beautiful watercolors on the following pages that we see the full range of Bronckhorst's skill. He forges a remarkable synthesis between a concern for scientific truth and the decorative by incorporating exotic species that were highly prized by royal and private clients. In his arrangements, Bronckhorst places the animals within a setting that provides a guide to scale and an impression of the landscape of their natural habitats.
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