The Birdnester

After David Vinckboons Netherlandish
After Hessel Gerritsz Netherlandish

Not on view

Although David Vinckboons made only three prints himself, his designs were the basis for more prints than any other Netherlandish artist in the early seventeen century. Many of the prints illustrate proverbs or scenes from contemporary life, often with satirical overtones.

The bird nester was a subject first made popular by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The proverb, has been translated as "he who knows where it is has the knowledge, but he who robs it has the nest." Vinckboons treated the theme at least three times. The present work repeats in reverse the upper left corner of a larger etching by Hessel Gerritsz. in which two men watch a boy steal fledglings from a nest. It is in not recorded in any of the catalogues of the prints after Vinckboons and is apparently the only known impression of the print. The printmaker has not been identified, but the rather dry hatching and treatment of the facial types suggest the work of Pieter Feddes van Harlingen, an etcher, painter and poet from Friesland. Another small etching, in the British Museum, London (1847,1009.47), which also copies a small section of Gerritsz.’s print, appears to be by the same hand.

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