Van Aelst depicts suspended partridges, one of them resting on a gold-trimmed green velvet hunter’s pouch that lies on a stone ledge. A fly has just landed on the partridge’s wing, a detail that serves to heighten the still life’s illusionistic qualities. But the picture is perhaps above all an exercise in painting different textures. Van Aelst has deliberately contrasted the softness of the feathers and the smooth velvet of the pouch with the hard and shiny surfaces of the pouch’s metal frame, the hunting horn above it and the cold stone of the marble ledge underneath, making sure we can be in no doubt about his superlative skills as a painter.
In the 18th century this painting belonged to William V, Prince of Orange and the last Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic.
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