This essay will be discussing how Melchior d Hondecoeter’s painting titled The poultry yard (late 17th century)(Figure 1) and George Stubbs’s A lion attacking a horse (c.1765) use different background, categories, landscape, meaning and other features to depict the animals in two distinct styles. They both painted in Enlightenment. During the late 17th and early 18th century, the Enlightenment, also known as the age of reason, was a philosophical movement that took place primarily in Europe. They want to built moral, aesthetics and ideological system by experience and mature thinking.
This two painters are both good at painting animals and their composition are very famous in all over the world. They had a number of masterpieces. Melchior d’Hondecoeter was the best-known bird painter of seventeenth-century Holland. His exotic menagerie scenes were much admired, but his most popular paintings were of domestic poultry narratives. George Stubbs, one of the England’s foremost animal painter throughout the second half of the eighteen century.
His focus on the violent forces of nature had a profound impact on the following generation of Romantic artists it gives me another sense, they have different styles to show.
George Stubbs(1724-1806)devoted much of his life to depicting the horse, and gave the term “equestrian portrait” a new and more fitting meaning. His horses fill the canvas, with the human element or scenery secondary to his equine subject Stubbs is one of the greatest of English painters. For too long he was undervalued by the label ‘Mr Stubbs the Horse Painter’.
He is the most original and searching of all the painters of animals, the maker of unforgettable images that rank with the greatest European art. his experiments with preparing enamel colors and with mixing engraving methods were undertaken because he realized that paintings on canvas and panel are liable to deteriorate, and he wished to make his works last as long as possible. The reason why his horse is so accurate is that he was professional at anatomy. According to a book, ‘I believe that Stubbs thought of himself first and foremost as a painter of reality, and that he undertook the study of the anatomy of the horse and, later, comparative anatomy, in order to paint more realistically. He had paint a lot of skeleton of a horse. George Stubbs’s Anatomy of the Horse in one of the great anatomy projects of the past 500 years in Western art history. Even today it is both scientifically and aesthetically convincing and the exceptional graphic and anatomical accuracy of his drawings and etchings is impressive. They mark the acme of the interaction between art and science that characterized the Age of Enlightenment.
Stubbs’s achievement is an artistic, physical, intellectual and technical tour de force. It entailed dissecting, preparing, describing and drawing horses and then making etchings from the drawings with which to illustrate his treatise. Melchior d’Hondecoeter(1636-1695)specialty of poultry painting was something of family business. He is the best-known Dutch painter of bird scenes, whose lively depictions brought him renown in his own lifetime. His paintings give us a good idea of bird species found in the Netherlands of his day, both in the countryside and in the aviaries and menageries in which the rich kept exotic animals in the second half of the seventeenth century[footnoteRef:10]. There was a painting named Ducks(c.1675-c.1680) which is very similar to the poultry yard. The background is trees and sea. But it still have something different which is the tone. D’Hondecoeter specialized in bird paintings, a genre practiced by few artists. He played to the taste of the rich, particularly in the second half of the seventeenth century.
It is very easy to discover that the size are different. The poultry yard (148.2*170.3cm) are much larger than A Lion attacking a horse (69*100.1cm). They are both oil on canvas. On the other hand, I think A lion attacking a horse’s animals are imaged by George Stubbs, because according to Stubbs said, the second theme to occupy him was that of the Lion and Horse and is said to have come from a visit to Morocco made by Stubbs on his way back from Italy when he saw a lion actually attacking a horse. Morocco has Mediterranean climate in the north, subtropical mountain in the middle, and tropical desert in the east and south. Because of the climate, this picturesque scenery was not existing. So I believe that a lion attacking a horse is not real, But in my opinion, oppositely the poultry yard’s animals are real. One of the reason is that this phenomenon is very common in anywhere. The poultry were released and the details like the feather and the color of the soil. It conformed to the reality.
One distinct difference between the two paintings is the different kinds of animals. For example, George Stubbs printed a white horse and a lion. The character of two animals diverse. The horse is docile and kind but the lion is violent and gory. The lion attack the horse suddenly and the horse were struggling. This scene is very scary. However, The poultry yard is much more peaceful, although they also are different kinds of animals, they get along well with each other.
The two painters both combined animals and natural landscape. Although this two pictures themes are similar, the feelings are different in my first reaction. As I see The poultry yard, in this sense, ducks and chickens coexist in the forest. It is very peaceful and quiet. But A lion attacking a horse is much more stressful. They are fighting and it is a very dangerous condition. Maybe the horse would seriously injury or dead. According to John Berger said, it is a horse who falls: ‘Sarpedon, casting second with his shining spear, missed Patroclus but struck his horse Pedasus on the right shoulder. The horse whinnied in the throes of Death, then fell down in the dust and with a great sigh gave up his life.’ That was animal. The environment is similar to this situation which is nervous and fearful. But if we think more about it, there are something news. Talking about the season. I think A lion attacking a horse took place in the summer and The poultry yard maybe in the autumn or winter, because of the plant color. The poultry yard took place in the morning, the reason is that the chickens and ducks are always active in the morning. A lion attacking a horse took place in the morning or at duck. Because the light was soft and not too bright.
They used different methods of Color palette. The poultry yard combined the animals and background perfectly, the size and the place have a good balanced so that it would not give other queer feeling. The details were managed suitably which have a uniformity with the whole things. The hue of it is warm and used darker tones. There are obviously negative and positive shades to show what direction is the sun in so that it could be judged the time. Although a lion attacking a horse do not have many details, it would not feel like lack anything. The hue of a lion attacking a horse is cool so that it can fit in with the need of content which is cruel.
The poultry yard is crowded and muddiness, there are some fallen feathers and dirty soil, but a lion attacking a horse is simple and tidy. There are no pollution. It let me think about the social comment. The poultry yard means the poor people. I find that this situation as same as the environment of Proletariat, although they are not and rich, they always get along well with each other. But they are not clean. Differently, a lion attacking a horse’s environment it is extremely comfortable and enjoyable, there is no pollution and crud. Like the upper-class live condition which is always luxury and noble. The more exotic the animal, the more highly it was prized. African animals were bizarre luxuries, which Kings and Princes were eager to own. It became quiet common for a prince to house a menagerie on his estate, and even the minor nobility and richer citizens kept monkey, parrots, canaries and guinea-fowl. I think those animals are a symbol as well.
It is necessary to talk about the theme of the two paintings. Talking about the poultry of the yard, in this scene, ducks and chickens coexist in arcadian harmony, but the peace has been suddenly shattered and panic is setting in. the cause is their sighting of a broken jug handle lying ‘innocently’ in the foreground. This item appears to be an improvised tool used in the killing of table birds, and it appears as a memento mori element in many poultry. Although it looks like a peaceful condition from the surface, the animals would not live for a long time. In a lion attacking a horse, a lion was observed at some distance, directing his way, with a slow pace, towards a white Barbary horse… the lion, finding him within his power, sprang in a moment, like a cat, on the back of the defenseless horse, threw him down, and instantly tore out his bowels. It foiled a different environment.
In conclusion, both the poultry yard and a lion attacking a horse are masterpieces and had a huge effect on the society. This two pictures used different methods to exhibit their own specious meaning and style, like the size, background, categories, color palettes, hue. There were variety of shining points which reflect the art real values.