Aelbert Cuyp was a Dutch painter of the Baroque period who is known for his peaceful landscapes of the Dutch countryside, distinguished for the poetic use of light and atmosphere. Born in Dordrecht in 1620 into a family of artists, he was trained by his father Jan Gerritsz, gaining practical experience by executing the backgrounds of his portrait paintings. It was also from his father that he inherited his love for animals. Although his land- and seascapes were the genres in which he achieved considerable success and influenced other painters, Cuyp painted some pictures of animals and birds and occasional portraits or historical pieces.
As he did in his renderings of pastoral scenes with cows, in this painting Cuyp silhouettes the brood of chickens and a roster against a bright sky. The sense of rural serenity is enhanced by the picture’s low vantage point and honeyed tone, only disrupted by the red emphasis on the crests. These are features Cuyp adopted from artists like Jan Both, who had traveled in Italy and whose work he probably came to know during his visits to Utrecht. Cuyp transposed the warm light of the Mediterranean onto his native Dutch landscape. His pictures frequently include a view of the countryside surrounding his native Dordrecht, although he also drew inspiration from his sketching incursions around Holland and the Rhine River.
During the Dutch Golden Age, political, economic, religious, and social circumstances created a unique and fruitful climate for the arts. Merchants would foster a new kind of patronage for the arts and supported a great number of artists who produced paintings for domestic decoration. Cuyp signed but did not date many of his paintings, and it is difficult to establish a chronology of his stylistic development. It is known that up to the early 1640s he painted usually on a small scale with a firm but flowing touch and that by 1650 he had developed his style. He was known as a religious man, active in the Dutch Reformed Church, and served in several administrative and ecclesiastical posts. His greater involvement in these activities and the lack of financial pressures as a result of his marriage in 1650 to Cornelia Bosman, a wealthy widow, might have been the cause for him to stop painting around 1665.