GILLIS CLAESZ. D'HONDECOETER (Antwerp c. 1580 - Amsterdam - 1638)
An Extensive Wooded Landscape with Christ on the Road to Emmaus
oil on canvas
25 x 42 1/4 inches (63.5 x 107.3 cm.)
Private Collection, Maryland, until the present time
Gillis Claesz d'Hondecoeter was born in Antwerp into a Protestant family of painters who left the town to escape religious persecution. He was trained in Delft, lived in Utrecht, where he married in 1602, and settled in Amsterdam by 1628. He was a deacon of the Amsterdam guild in 1636 and died in that city. There are dated paintings by him from 1609 until 1629. Hondecoeter's son, Gijsbrecht, was a landscape and bird painter, and his grandson Melchior (1636 -1695), perhaps the best known member of this dynasty, was also a bird painter who specialized in farmyard scenes and depictions of elegant birds in the grounds of country estates.
During his years in Utrecht, Hondecoeter was profoundly influenced by Roelandt Savery, who also settled there (see, for example, Hondecoeter's paintings of 1618 in Braunschweig and of 1620 in the Rijksmuseum). After moving to Amsterdam, he slowly abandoned the manner of Savery in favor of landscapes more closely based on observation of the Dutch countryside. A fascinating transitional figure, it was only gradually and rather timidly that he abandoned Flemish compositional schemes in favor of greater naturalism.