Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Charming 18th Century Painting of Birds

Christopher Huet (French, 1694-1759)
"Ruffs in a Landscape"
Oil on canvas
Canvas size: 20 1/2” x 17 3/8”
Literature: Christine E. Jackson, Bird Painting - The Eighteenth Century (Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1994), p. 76

Christopher Huet’s informal and intimate painting places male and female specimens of the species Philomachus pugnax in their natural habitat of marshy wetlands. The bird was first introduced to the English in 1586 when an anonymous writer published an attack upon the large frilly lace ruffs currently the fashion among Elizabethan men and woman. He scornfully likened these extravagant collars to the ruff worn around the neck of the male ruff bird when in breeding plummage.

Huet’s charming painting was most probably designed to appeal to members of the French aristocracy among whom he found continued employment. He specialized in the depiction of natural history subjects as well the interior decoration of houses. His skills were such that his name can be found along side that of Watteau in the account books of the Prince de Conde documenting work completed at the family castle in 1741.

This elegant painting is currently on display at Arader Galleries (435 Jackson St., San Francisco, CA). Please call 415.788.5115 with any questions.

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