Count Lothar Franz von Schönborn (1655 – 1729), Schloss Weissenstein, Pommersfelden, Germany, by at least 1719;
By descent within the collection of the Counts of Schönborn, Schloss Weissenstein, Pommersfelden, Germany, until:
Their sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 17 – 24 May 1867, lot 263, 3700 francs to Moreau;
William Ward, 11th Lord Ward and, from 1869, 1st Earl of Dudley (1817 – 1885), Dudley House, Park Lane, London, by 1868;
By whom sold, London, Christie's, 7 April 1876, lot 105, 'A chef-d'oeuvre [A masterpiece]', 41 guineas to Waters;
Probably acquired by Sir Francis Cook, 1st Bt. (1817 – 1901), Doughty House, Richmond, Surrey;
By descent to his son, Sir Frederick Cook, 2nd Bt. (1844 – 1920), Doughty House, Richmond, Surrey, by at least 1914;
By descent to his son, Sir Herbert Cook, 3rd Bt. (1868 – 1939), Doughty House, Richmond, Surrey;
By descent to his son, Sir Francis Cook, 4th Bt. (1907 – 1978), Doughty House Richmond, Surrey; Cothay Manor, Somerset; and Jersey;
By whom sold, London, Sotheby's, 25 June 1958, lot 100, where purchased by Agnews on behalf of a private collection;
By whom sold (‘The Property of a Gentleman’), London, Christie's, 21 April 1989, lot 9, where purchased by a private collection, USA;
By whom sold (‘Property from an Estate’), New York, Sotheby’s, 15 January 1993, lot 91, where purchased by a private collection, Europe;
From whom acquired by the present owners.
Leeds, National Exhibition of Works of Art, 1868, Gallery C, no. 833, lent by William Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley (as Melchior d'Hondecoeter);
London, Royal Academy of Arts, Winter Exhibition, 1952 – 3: Dutch Pictures 1450 –1750, 22 November 1952 – 1 March 1953, Gallery V, no. 263, lent by Sir Francis Cook, Bt., and The Trustees of the Cook Collection;
Sheffield, Graves Art Gallery, Dutch Masterpieces, 3 March – 5 April 1956, Exhibition Loan Hall, no. 31, lent by Sir Francis Cook, Bt., and The Trustees of the Cook Collection.
Katalog der gräflich von Schönborn'schen Bilder-Gallerie zu Pommersfelden, Würzburg 1857, p. 44, cat. no. 309;
P. F. Gwinner, Kunst und Künstler in Frankfurt, Frankfurt 1862, p. 202, cat. no. 9b;
R. N. James & L. Lefèvre, National Exhibition of Works of Art, exh. cat., Leeds 1868, cat. no. 833 (as Melchior d'Hondecoeter);
J. O. Kronig, A Catalogue of the Paintings at Doughty House, Richmond, and Elsewhere in the Collection of Sir Frederick Cook, Bt., II, London 1914, p. 59, cat. no. 288;
U. Thieme & F. Becker, Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart, 37 vols., Leipzig 1930, vol. 24, p. 548;
M. W. Brockwell, Abridged Catalogue of the Pictures at Doughty House, Richmond, Surrey, in the Collection of Sir Herbert Cook, Bart., London 1932, p. 85, cat. no. 288;
Royal Academy of Arts, Winter Exhibition, 1952 – 3: Dutch Pictures 1450 –1750, exh. cat., London 1952, p. 54, cat. no. 263;
Graves Art Gallery, Dutch Masterpieces, exh. cat., Sheffield 1956, p. 9, cat. no. 31;
M. Kraemer-Noble, Abraham Mignon: 1640 – 1679, Leigh-on-Sea 1973, pp. 30-1, cat. no. A64, pl. 17;
R. Bys & K. Bott, Fürtrefflicher Gemähld- und Bilderschatz: die Gemäldesammlung des Lothar Franz von Schönborn in Pommersfelden, Weimar 1997, p. 26, cat. no. 59;
M. Kraemer-Noble, Abraham Mignon 1640 – 1679: catalogue raisonné, Petersberg 2007, p. 254, cat. no. 102, reproduced in black and white on p. 255.
The present painting is a resplendent example of Abraham Mignon’s hunting still lifes. The majestic cockerel is surrounded by a multitude of other types of bird, including a partridge, powder horns, a kingfisher and songbirds, whose jewel-like colours provide embellishment to their darker stone surroundings. The same can be said of the vivid blue sash, which contrasts dramatically with the orange tones of the cockerel’s headpiece under which it lies.
Mignon was not just a master of colour, but was also shrewd when it came to compositional arrangement: here the cockerel is suspended by only one leg from cords pinned to the top of the niche, allowing the bird to hang slightly off centre and for all of its feathers (including the stiff tail plumes) to unfold into the space.[i] The second foot – which can be observed in the right margin, curling over the precipice of the niche to create a greater sense of proximity to the viewer – is used to suspend two clusters of songbirds. Hunting accessories, such as the recurring coral amulet, fill the space on the other side of this foot, thus restoring the composition’s balance. Insects are also scattered throughout the scene: a spider dangling from its web, a snail, a bumblebee, and flies on the cadaver, which provide the most obvious allusion to decay and to the transience of life.[ii]