Gillis Claesz de Hondecoeter

Antwerp ca. 1575/80 – Amsterdam 1638

Orpheus charming the Animals by playig on his Lute

Signed ‘G…H. A.’ and dated ‘1622’ | Lower right
Oil on panel
H. 34,7 cm. | W. 61,3 cm.


Collection of Mr. Mennward;Collection of Mr. Rudolphe | Batemberg | According to a label on the reverse dated 3 December 1877;
Private collection | Europe;
Anonymous sale | Sotheby’s | London | 5 July 2007 | Old Master Paintings Day Sale | Lot 105;
Private collection

Meyere, J. de (2006). Utrechtse schilderkunst in de Gouden Eeuw. Honderd schilderijen uit de collectie van het Centraal Museum te Utrecht. Utrecht, cat. nr. 51, with ill.


The Antwerp born master Gillis de Hondecoeter painted imaginary landscapes in the Flemish tradition, typically occupied by fowl and birds, most of the time in connection with a biblical or mythological theme.In Greek mythology, Orpheus was a singer and poet who was given a lyre by Apollo, the God of Music, and was taught to play by the Muses. His music was so beautiful that it pacified wild animals, calmed the seas and animated trees and rocks. A popular motive in both the Renaissance and Baroque period, De Hondecoeter explored the subject of Orpheus playing for the animals at least three other times. One version is kept in the collection of the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo (inv. nr. KM 107.140), a signed version in the collection of the Nationalmuseum Stockholm, Stockholm (inv. nr. NM 466) and most notably the signed and dated ‘1624’ version in the collection of the Centraal Museum, Utrecht (inv. nr. 5347; 143). The present work, dated ‘1622’, is a typical example of his early mature work, before his landscapes became more realistic and Dutch in style.