French School

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French School
16th century
European Green Woodpecker (picus viridis)
ca. 1590
Opaque watercolor, over black chalk, on paper, mounted to an album leaf with ruled borders in pen and brown ink. A separate study of the bird's foot is repeated in black chalk on the mount.
Drawing: 6 5/8 x 9 inches (168 x 228 mm); album leaf: 10 1/4 x 15 1/4 inches (261 x 388 mm)
Gift of Jacques Vellekoop.

Inscribed in brush and black ink at upper right, "EPEC"; in pen and brown ink, "ou pinet" and in graphite at upper right, 68 and 31. The album leaf is numbered in pen and brown ink at upper right, "79F"; at lower left, "74".
Watermark: indecipherable through lining, probably on lining.

Jacques Vellekoop (1926-2007), London.

Ryskamp, Charles, ed. Seventeenth Report to the Fellows of the Pierpont Morgan Library, 1972-1974. New York : Pierpont Morgan Library, 1976, p. 164.


Leaf from a dismembered album.
This study of a woodpecker likely derives from a larger group of bird drawings that were mounted to the pages of an album. Interest in natural history subjects increased in France during the sixteenth century along with the spread of humanism, and sizable groups of studies of birds document this trend. Large groups of bird drawings survive from this period (see, for example, the group at the New-York Historical Society) and inscriptions indicate they were often exchanged among natural historians seeking to taxonomically identify specimens. The writing on the present sheet may be later than the drawing, which itself may have been made in the late sixteenth or early seventeenth century.

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Associated names: 

Vellekoop, Jacques, former owner.

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