In this improbable scene, pigeons perch on a thatched, wooden dovecote, before which is a gathering of other birds, including chickens, ducks and a peacock. In the distance a country residence can be seen between a mountain and a lake.
This painting is typical of the work of Marmaduke Cradock, who specialised in paintings birds. A similar dovecote and related depictions of birds are seen in an engraving after Cradock’s work of 1742, made by Joseph Sympson. Also, a painting sold through Christie’s, London, in June 2004 (listed as ‘attributed to Marmaduke Cradock’) includes the same white hen, with a chick to her right, one under her left wing and a third on her back.
Marmaduke Cradock was born in Somerton, Somerset. He served an apprenticeship to a house painter, before becoming a self-taught artist, painting decorative images of birds and animals in landscape settings. It is thought he taught a little-known bird painter named Coniers. Between 1740 and 1743, five engravings by Joseph Sympson after works by Cradock were published. Paintings in the style of Cradock are often sold in the art market, however only three examples signed by the artist are known. These include ‘Peacocks, Doves, Turkeys, Chickens, and Ducks by a Classical Ruin in a Landscape’ (Yale University, Center for British Art) and ‘A Peacock and other Birds in a Landscape’ (Tate collection). Cradock died in Whitechapel, London, in 1717.
Sale of the contents of a house associated with Caister Castle (possibly Oxnead Hall sale, 1836); sold through Phillips, Son & Neale, 27 September 1955 (Lot 241); from which sale purchased by the Ministry of Works
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