In this Arcadian pastoral landscape, the Hungarian artist Jakob Bogdani (c. 1660-1720) has depicted a plethora of wild birds and fowl: a turkey stands on a capital in the centre; a peacock and albino peahen perch upon a Classical fragment; coloured doves and pigeons roost in the boughs of the surrounding trees whilst an assortment of ducks, geese and guineafowl occupy the foreground. A building can be discerned in the distance.
Admiral George Churchill (1654-1710), the younger brother of the 1st Duke of Marlborough, was responsible for the construction of a celebrated aviary in which he ensconced a valuable collection of rare birds. Situated near Ranger’s Lodge in the Windsor Home Park, which the Admiral had been lent in or before December 1706 by his sister-in-law the Duchess of Marlborough, the estate also boasted a notable garden. After his retirement from the Admiralty in October 1708, Churchill devoted himself entirely to the aviary.
Bogdani’s artistic record of the Admiral’s multitude of birds and fewer animals is largely thought to have been compiled between 1708 and Churchill’s death on 8 May 1710. Certainly, the inhabitants of the Churchill aviary largely informed the body of Bogdani’s work executed in England as did the art of Melchior d’Hondecoeter (c. 1636-1695). Bogdani is known to have painted from stuffed animals, of which he housed a small collection in his studio.