1687 Brescia - 1753
Oil on canvas, 47 x 37 cm
Giorgio Duranti was a naturalistic painter who was born in Brescia in 1687. He devoted his work to animal painting "en vivant" and especiallyinto painting birds.
The birds themselves were divided into three categories:
- domestic animals, like hens, cocks, goose, duck or turkey.
- marsh birds, like stilts
- birds of prey, like barn owls, red kite or a common buzzard.
One has to bear in mind, that the 17th century was a century of retirement to the countryside, especially in summer and winter. The country life was characterized by resting, playing and a vibrant social life. The idea and ideal of living in- and with nature created a naturalistic revival. The society was seeking for their garden of eden and tried to recreate this Hortus conclusus in their private country houses. The orchestration of the garden as the Garden of Eden became a mean to feel closer to God within his creation.
The œuvre of Duranti is characterized by a precise approach which orientates itself in the realistic painting Brescias'. From the hotspot of Padua - where many people from Brescia received their formation - the ideas of John Locke were spread. John Locke was the primary representative of Empirism, whose ideas influenced his time tremendously. By observation of farm animals, metaphoric sights on human behavior in comparison to to the behavior of animals were made.
The tales of Jean de la Fontaine, which were published from 1668 to 1694 had also a tremendous impact in believing into human behavior mirrored in the microcosmos of animal behavior.
Even Physignomy was part of the comparison. One tried to mirror the physiognomy of a human in the physiognomies of animals ("De humana Physiognomia" by della Porta and "Physiognomische Fragmente" by Johann Caspar Lavater were published during Durantis' lifetime and were very well known by then).
Bearing in mind, that Duranti was quite aware of that fact, it is very likely that these two turkeys are not only turkeys as such, but might be also seen as a metaphoric portrait of an old - and maybe longtime married couple.
The turkey hen, a little vain and curiously looking on the beholder can easily be taken as portrait of a lady of that time, whereas the turkey is painted in all his magnificence, as the master of the court solemnly and in his dignity.