Jan Fyt was an extremely successful painter of bird and animal still-life pictures, using a light, frothy style of brushwork peculiar to him. Here, he has piled up the birds' bodies – a brace of partridges alongside a greenfinch, chaffinch, brambling, robin and quail – in a pyramid. The evening sky casts a mellow glow on the gate behind them, but is grey and threatening overhead. It has been suggested that the object behind the tree trunk is a bird trap, but it is more likely to be a birdcage used to carry a decoy bird or a bird of prey.
At this time in the Southern Netherlands, hunting was still a pastime reserved for the aristocracy. But members of the well-off urban elite were eager to acquire Fyt’s game pieces, and to decorate their houses with these tokens of a lifestyle only open to aristocrats.
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