A cat amongst cockerels is a very Baroque dramatization of a poultry yard scene, whose popularity spread throughout Europe after the emancipation of genre scenes in Dutch 17th century art and its followers. The lively painting, full of realistic details, has as its emphasised centre a little chick’s struggle for its life, cleverly set into the Golden Section. The legible signature J. Bogdani on the bottom left of the canvas points to the painter Jakub Bogdan, a native of Prešov. We know almost nothing of his early years spent in today’s northern Slovakia. According to a biography written by his contemporary G. Vertu he belonged to the local Protestant lower nobility, which seems to have been a significant factor in his leaving Upper Hungary during the 1670s, a time of triumphant Counter-Reformation. From 1684 Bogdan, well-known as a painter of bouquets, could be found in the Dutch centre of Amsterdam. His later departure for England was linked to the coronation of the Statdholder William of Orange, for whom he worked, as King of England. In June 1688 he definitely settled in Tower Street, St. Giles in the Field in London, and within five years he married Elizabeth Henning, the daughter of a royal tenant. Bogdan’s lifetime opportunity, arising out of the work of Dutch and English still-life painters, was his participation in decorating the Wren-rebuilt royal seat of Hampton Court in Middlesex in 1691-1694. The painting presented here belonged to an extensive group of post-1703 works depicting birds, and together with a pendant capturing a cockerel fight was made for Admiral George Churchill, one of Bogdan’s patrons. The painter’s inspiration may have been the Admiral’s famous aviary built in the park at Windsor.
Text:Katarína Chmelinová Literature:111 diel zo zbierok 111 diel zo zbierok = works of art from the collection. Slovenská národná galéria. Bratislava : SNG, Vyd. Slovart, 2008. ISBN 9788080856014, 108-109.