Black Cocks at Ground
  • TitleBlack Cocks at Ground
  • Technique/ MaterialOlja på duk
  • DimensionsDimensions: (h x b) 275 x 266 cm
    Frame: (h x b x dj) 286 x 276 x 8 cm
  • DatingSign. 1675
  • Artist/Maker Artist: David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, Swedish, born 1628-04-25, dead 1698-10-27
  • CategoryPaintings, Paintings
  • Inventory No.NM 4862
  • AcquisitionOmföring 1951 från Drottningholmssamlingen, Drh 651
  • Description
    Images and media

    This is the very first known landscape painting where a Swedish artist has depicted his view of Swedish nature. It is an early morning in the middle of April and in the light mist the unmistakable lakeside landscape of central Sweden emerges. Spruces and juniper bushes rise up from the ground, which is peppered with lichens and mosses, and in the middle distance the view is flanked by pines and birches. But in front of this tranquil view, something dramatic is taking place – the artist has captured a magnificent black grouse courtship display in the heart of the Swedish countryside – somewhere outside Kungsör – in the spring of 1675.
    Ehrenstrahl was the leading Swedish artist of the late 17th century and was regularly called upon by the Royal court. Among the paintings that he executed alongside his Royal allegories and portraits of the elite, his realistic depictions of all kinds of animals take pride of place. In these paintings of hunting, birds and squirrels, the Swedish countryside can sometimes be glimpsed in the background. But in this painting, the landscape has emerged from a suggestive backdrop to become an indelible part of the lead motif.
    Anyone who stands before the painting to admire the landscape and the black grouse is not alone – concealed in a hide in the foreground sits another spectator of the drama that is unfolding. Alongside our modern eyes, a pair from the 17th-century still gaze out onto the misty April landscape – the original viewer in this first Swedish landscape is forever embodied in the painting.