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Key facts
Full title Dead Birds in a Landscape
Artist Jan Fyt
Artist dates 1611 - 1661
Date made probably 1640s
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 41.6 x 56.8 cm
Inscription summary Signed
Acquisition credit Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876
Inventory number NG1003
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Dead Birds in a Landscape
Jan Fyt

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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