Toucan, cockatoo, sultana hen and vulture in a landscape
Best known for having painted the portraits of the favorite dogs of kings Louis XIV and Louis XV, François Desportes, who was admitted to the Academy in 1699 in the very special genre of animal painter, specialized in painting hunting scenes and representations of animals "au naturel". He also accompanied the sovereign on hunting trips in order to draw and sketch as closely as possible to the pack. Curious, endowed with a keen sense of detail and attitude, he also multiplied his studies of exotic animals and plants.
The royal menagerie of the Palace of Versailles gathered from the end of the 17th century a vast group of animals that King Louis XIV asked his governors to send from various countries.
The species of exotic birds represented here were made in 1713 to decorate one of the four overdoors of the working cabinet of the Château de Bercy. Desportes shows a toucan on the right and a pope vulture in the foreground, both from South America, in a landscape composed of a banana tree and pineapple vines, accompanied by a sultana hen with midnight blue plumage from Turkey and a white cockatoo with a red crest from Indonesia. Even if the species represented here do not come from the same regions, they are brought together by the painter in the same landscape in an imaginary way, as if these animals were joining together in an unreal territory.