Other one’s Feathers

OTHER ONE'S FEATHERS

A new painted ceiling and four "overdoor" panels, all for a Louis XVI Tea-pavilion, last remaining relic of two demolished 17th-century country estates and a menagerie portrayed by Hondecoeter. . .

Photography; Eddy Wenting.

Driemond - 1719
Driemond - 1719

The Dutch town of Driemond is a small village on the road from Amsterdam to Weesp, a meeting point of three small rivers, where two monumental country estates were built on opposite riverbanks in the mid 17th-century. Both houses, "Schoonoord” and “Driemond” were - as happened so often - demolished in the mid 1800's, leaving just an 18th-century gateway and an elegant tea pavilion remaining to be admired today on the premises of a much smaller neo-style villa built in 1875. In their heyday both these mansions were surrounded by extensive formal gardens, ornamental lakes, fountains and menageries (1) , as we know from descriptions of visitors, inventories, some surviving floor plans and a set of engravings by Stoopendaal (1719). Most appealing to the imagination however, is a room-sized four-panel painting by Hondecoeter; “Birdpark with House Driemond” now permanently on display in the Rembrandt Room of the Alte Pinakothek Museum in München, Germany. (2)

Melchior de Hondecoeter - Birdpark with House Driemond (1671/80) - Details <p>  Alte Pinakothek Museum - Munich.
Melchior de Hondecoeter - Birdpark with House Driemond (1671/80) - Details

Alte Pinakothek Museum - Munich.


On a map from the 1790’s we find the Driemond Tea pavilion located on the banks of the Smal-Weesp river, a suitable location to enjoy the precious luxury of tea. On engravings from that time, tea domes are often also referred to as play houses or drinking houses, but whatever was to be consumed there, people were clearly well-to-do enough to have the time to themselves and above all, eager to show this in public. First and foremost tea pavilions were intended as display cabinets, showcases to “see and be seen”.


The 18th century tea pavilion at Driemond.
The 18th century tea pavilion at Driemond.

A NEW CEILING
Somewhere at the beginning of the 19th century, the pavilion was moved a few hundred meters away from its original spot between the road and the river, and so more or less became part of the menagerie of the original house “Schoonoord”.
Since tea domes often also show a formal relatedness with bird cages, it seemed appropriate to take the animals in Dutch 17th and 18th c. menageries as point of departure for a new ceiling painting in this historic building.

PEACOCK
A well-known 1708 Abraham Busschop ceiling painting in the collection of the Dordrecht museum, shows a raven being robbed of the found and stolen feathers he has adorned himself with. During the design process a peacock borrowed from this work kept popping up in the collages and drawings that arose. "In the end I accepted his presence," says Korver, "and included the animal as a quote in the new work. Something traditionally known as ‘schilderkunstige onleening’ or painterly appropriation.”
Interestingly this borrowed bird by Busschop brought about a shift in the image’s meaning, making it fit into a long tradition of fable paintings. Ravens with stolen feathers, admonishing against showing off with wealth, achievements, properties or ideas that have been appropriated dishonestly.

\"Other ones Feathers\" 2020 - Detail - new painted ceiling for the 18th-century Driemond tea pavilion. <p>.
"Other ones Feathers" 2020 - Detail - new painted ceiling for the 18th-century Driemond tea pavilion.

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The popularity of menageries and 'naturalia' collections in the 17th- and 18th-century is linked to all sorts of phenomena, an increased or even fashonable public interest in science for instance. Special in this context however, is that on a more fundamental level it is precisely this what takes place in a menagerie; showing off with those who have been forcefully appropriated and confined.

East- and West India company vessels used to take wild animals as an extra on their months long journey back home. Although the chances of survival were minimal, there was an insatiable market waiting in Amsterdam.
The new ceiling shows us an array of birds known to have been present in 17th-century Holland. They have been grouped in roughly three clusters representing their place of origin in South East Asia and Latin America.


Other One\'s Feathers 2020 - new painted ceiling for the 18th c. Driemond tea pavilion <p> Tempera, Acrylics and goldleaf on wood - diameter 280 cm
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Other One's Feathers 2020 - new painted ceiling for the 18th c. Driemond tea pavilion

Tempera, Acrylics and goldleaf on wood - diameter 280 cm

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The Driemond Tea pavilion at Schoonoord in 2020.<p>.
The Driemond Tea pavilion at Schoonoord in 2020.

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Other One\'s Feathers 2020 - <p>ceiling overview with floorboards - diameter 405 cm
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Other One's Feathers 2020 -

ceiling overview with floorboards - diameter 405 cm

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Other one’s Feathers

Other one’s Feathers

Toucan <p>.
Toucan

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Some Dutch sweetwater fish on the menu for a Brown Indian Fish owl. <p> a bird brought over on a VOC vessel, most likely from Sri Lanka ( Ceylon) <p>.
Some Dutch sweetwater fish on the menu for a Brown Indian Fish owl.

a bird brought over on a VOC vessel, most likely from Sri Lanka ( Ceylon)

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Driemond - 1719
Driemond - 1719

AN INVERTED FABLE
The Dutch acquired and accumulated their wealth mostly by trade but often also through the violence and brutal atrocities that so often accompany a position of maritime and military dominance. Yet, where the main character of numerous Dutch bird paintings and ceilings, the Raven from the fables of Aesop and la Fontaine, in the end received a beating for its dishonest behaviour towards the other birds, thus conveying its virtuous and admonishing message to us, in reality the display of Hollands accumulated wealth went mostly unchallenged.

RAVENS
Ravens were also added to this tea pavilion by Korver, on a set of new “Supraporte” paintings above the windows and the door. In this setting these birds can show their acquired feathers undisturbed. Posing with great confidence, clearly outlined against an empty sky over a low horizon.

The tea-pavilions interior with new paintings added above two of its windows and the entrance.<p>.
The tea-pavilions interior with new paintings added above two of its windows and the entrance.

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Hondecoeter painted Driemond House and its exotic fowl against the background of an idealized Italian landscape. These ravens however, are set in a Dutch polder, with historic details appearing in the background, like set pieces on a theatre stage; the surviving 18th-century gateway of Schoonoord House, the tea pavilion itself and the facade of House Driemond as we know it from Stoopendaals engravings and the Hondecoeter painting. One of the paintings shows a windmill on the distant horizon, seemingly an ironic detail of an overexploited icon of Holland. It is the "Broekzijder" windmill, built along the Gein river in 1641 - and still there today – draining these lands, thereby enabling Driemond House to be built in the first place, and these ravens to keep dry feet.
A technical facility as a small detail far off in the distance, enabling the theatre in the front to take place.

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Other ones Feathers - Raven 2 -  2020 - \"Dessus de porte\" or \"Overdoor\" painting <p> Acrylics and tempera on Aluminum. <p>.
Other ones Feathers - Raven 2 - 2020 - "Dessus de porte" or "Overdoor" painting

Acrylics and tempera on Aluminum.

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Other ones Feathers - Raven 1 -  2020 - \"Sopraporte\" or \"Overdoor\" painting <p> Acrylics and tempera on Aluminum. <p>.
Other ones Feathers - Raven 1 - 2020 - "Sopraporte" or "Overdoor" painting

Acrylics and tempera on Aluminum.

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Other ones Feathers - Raven 4 -  2020 - \"Sopraporte\" or \"Overdoor\" painting <p> Acrylics and tempera on Aluminum. <p>.
Other ones Feathers - Raven 4 - 2020 - "Sopraporte" or "Overdoor" painting

Acrylics and tempera on Aluminum.

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Other ones Feathers - Raven 3 -  2020 - \"Supraporte\" or \"Overdoor\" painting <p> Acrylics and tempera on Aluminum. <p>.
Other ones Feathers - Raven 3 - 2020 - "Supraporte" or "Overdoor" painting

Acrylics and tempera on Aluminum.

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The Ravens in Aesopus’ and La Fontaine’s fables received a beating for their dishonoust behaviour, Korver's ravens however seem to get away with everything as they show off their wealth with elegance; self-assured, fashionable and proud.

Finally; Raven is “Corvus” in Latin, a word that seems to echo the painter's family name to such extend, it adds yet another personal note to the work. After all, doesn’t something similar apply to Korver, as he first “adorns” this work with the rich history of this location, and then himself, with a moral judgment on a history he personally never suffered from.

What we can relate to however, according to Korver, is the story of the individual animal that was captured one day somewhere in 17th c. Batavia, Ceylon or Suriname, appropriated, sold, and after surviving a sometimes yearlong sea voyage, spent its later days as an ornament in a menagerie of a rich and refined country estate somewhere in the marshlands around 17th century Amsterdam.

“I recently met a young Nigerian women studying international relations in Rotterdam while living in Amsterdam as an au pair,” says Korver. “Seeing this work she sighed and summarized it concisely; "In the end it's just like slavery isn't it?". . . "Just the same as any other form of appropriation, back then just as well as today. Turning the body of “the Other” into an object with just one simple sentence;
I like that body ... I'll have it."

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NOTES

1) Inspired by the zoo Louis XIV had ordered to be built at Versailles, menageries enjoyed great popularity all through the 17th- and 18th-century. Within the city of Amsterdam at least two could be visited, but at the numerous country estates outside the city walls menageries were regarded a standard garden accessory for the exceptionally well-to-do. Famous for its rich collection of animals from all over the world was the Menagerie of “Stadhouder“ Willem V at the palace in Voorburg.

2) Paintings, panels and ceilings depicting domestic and exotic birds were in high demand. It seems Adolf Visscher and Anna Maria Pelt, new owners acquiring Driemond House in 1671 had a rich collection embellishing the walls of their Amsterdam canal palazzo and the Driemond estate, among them fifty works by Hondecoeter alone. Paintings like these were not just a colourful display of painterly virtuoso; these birds were seen as a reflection of the owners wealth and the international power of the Dutch republic.



Other One\'s Feathers 2020 - \"Dislocated\"<p> Study for a preview. <p> .<p>.
Other One's Feathers 2020 - "Dislocated"

Study for a preview.

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The impressive layout of the baroque gardens at House Schoonoord and Driemond in the mid 18th century. <p>.
The impressive layout of the baroque gardens at House Schoonoord and Driemond in the mid 18th century.

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Cassowary and peacock both from what once used to be called \"East India\" <p>.
Cassowary and peacock both from what once used to be called "East India"

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Three birds from Latin America;  Blue and Yellow Macaw, Toucan and a Black Curassow, <p>.
Three birds from Latin America; Blue and Yellow Macaw, Toucan and a Black Curassow,

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Sailing down. 
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The Pinnate leaves of a European Ash bring to mind the appropriated feathers in Aesop’s and la Fontaine’s raven fable. 
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Sailing down.

The Pinnate leaves of a European Ash bring to mind the appropriated feathers in Aesop’s and la Fontaine’s raven fable.

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Driemond - 1719
Driemond - 1719

Photography; Eddy Wenting.