The J. Paul Getty Museum

Still Life with Dead Birds and Game Bag

Object Details


Still Life with Dead Birds and Game Bag


Willem van Aelst (Dutch, about 1626 - after 1687)






Oil on canvas

Object Number:



45.1 × 36.8 cm (17 3/4 × 14 1/2 in.)

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Object Description

Willem van Aelst's sensual and sumptuous treatment of the dead birds, leather case, and satin drapery in this picture forms an obvious link with his other still-life specialty, collections of luxurious objects. In this hunting trophy picture, van Aelst rendered the brightly colored birds and wide range of surfaces and textures with the same lushness he devoted elsewhere to crystal goblets and silver platters. He painted the birds so carefully that they can be accurately identified: the blue-green one is a kingfisher, the small red one is a Eurasian bullfinch, and the yellow-brown bird is a male bearded tit.

Few Dutch artists actually painted dead game and fowl, perhaps because hunting and shooting was not widely practiced in the northern Netherlands. Although a small number of game and fowl still lifes did begin to appear in Holland around 1640, the market for such pictures remained small.

by 1931 - about 1960

Dr. Cornelis Johannes Karel van Aalst, Dutch, 1866 - 1939 (Hoevelaken, The Netherlands), by inheritance within the van Aalst family, about 1960.

about 1960 - 1984

Van Aalst Family (possibly N. J. van Aalst) (The Netherlands) [sold, Aalst sale, Sotheby's, Amsterdam, November 26, 1984, lot 48, to Johnny Van Haeften.]

1984 - 1985

Johnny Van Haeften (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1985.

Casting Nature: François-Thomas Germain's Machine d'Argent (July 11, 2006 to March 25, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), July 11, 2006 to March 25, 2007

Centraal Museum, Utrecht: Catalogus der Schilderijen (Utrecht: Drukkerij J. van Boekhoven, 1933), p. 113, no. 244.

Sotheby's, Amsterdam. Old Master Paintings. November 26, 1984, p. 20, lot 48, ill.

"Acquisitions/1985." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 14 (1986), p. 218, no. 124.

Sutton, Peter C. A Guide to Dutch Art in America (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1986), p. 142.

Reinewald, Chris. "Musea en Galeries in Amerika: Het Getty Museum; Een Romeinse villa aan de Pacific Coast." Tableau 9, no. 4 (February 1987), pp. 65, 67.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 1, ill.

Boström, Antonia, Bieke van der Mark, and Jeffrey Weaver. Casting Nature: François-Thomas Germain's Machine d'Argent, exh. brochure (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2006), unpaginated, fig. 3.

Paul, Tanya. "'Beschildert met een Glans': Willem van Aelst and Artistic Self-Consciousness in Dutch Seventeenth-Century Still Life Painting." Ph.D. diss. (University of Virginia, 2008), p. 288, no. 89.

Paul, Tanya, et al., eds. Elegance and Refinement: The Still-Life Paintings of Willem van Aelst, exh. cat. (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2012), p. 146n3.