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The Bird-catcher Thomas Couture


Thomas Couture Senlis 1815 – 1879 Villiers-le-Bel

Date 1857
Object type painting
Medium, technique oil on canvas

42 x 61 cm

Inventory number 253.B
Collection Department of Art after 1800
On view This artwork is not on display

Thomas Couture, one of the most popular French painters of the mid-nineteenth cen tury, learned his craft from such great masters of history painting as Antoine-Jean Gros and Paul Delaroche. In terms of subject matter and technique, Couture was remarkably versatile, for besides historical subjects, his repertoire also included landscapes, portraits and allegorical compositions. In 1847 he opened a prestigious private school where, as painter and teacher, he nurtured many talents including Anselm Feuerbach and Édouard Manet.
In the late 1840s, his hometown offered Couture the old bishop’s chapel as a studio; „The Bird-Catcher” depicts the courtyard of this building. In the foreground we see a young hunter, alert and tense, down on one knee, waiting for the right moment to pull the string of the trap. Around the birdman, we can see cages placed in the courtyard and hanging from the side of the building and from the trees, a reference to the young man’s trade.
Bird-catching and birdmanship belong to the ancient crafts, and they offer an exciting embodiment of human resourcefulness. In his warm-toned genre painting, Couture depicts the kind of bird-catching that deployed conventional tools.

Rebeka Mrázik

This record is subject to revision due to ongoing research.

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