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Oil painting - Bird nesting

Bird nesting

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Britain (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1741-1742 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hayman, Francis RA (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Physical description

Painting depicting a group of children in a woodland looking for birds' nests.

Place of Origin

Britain (painted)


ca. 1741-1742 (painted)


Hayman, Francis RA (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas


Height: 143.5 cm approx., Width: 232.4 cm approx., :

Object history note

Purchased, 1986
Vauxhall sale by Ventom and Hughes, 12 Oct. 1841 (lot 186, 'children bird nesting' - a pleasing picture by Hayman...); Frederick Gye (inscribed on back of canvas 'F.G.'), 1842; Joseph Parkes; Christie's 8 May 1858 (lot 74, as by Hogarth). W. H. Forman; Sotheby's, 27 June 1899 (lot 87, unsold). Thence by descent to Major A.S.C. Brown; Christie's, 21 November 1986 (lot 66).

Historical significance: Subjects such as bird-nesting and bird-catching (see P.68-1986) demonstrate Hayman's awareness of French art, and have pictorial sources in engravings after Watteau and Lancret.

Historical context note

This painting is one of seven in the V&A by Francis Hayman which relate to Hayman's work for the Vauxhall Gardens. See 'Historical Context' note on Museum Number P.12-1947 [May Day or The Milkmaid's Garland] for information about Hayman and the Vauxhall Gardens, from Brian Allen, Francis Hayman, Published in association with English Heritage (the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood) and Yale Center for British Art by Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1987, Page 107-9.

Descriptive line

Bird nesting. Oil painting by Francis Hayman, ca.1741-1742.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Brian Allen, Francis Hayman, Published in association with English Heritage (the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood) and Yale Center for British Art by Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1987; including the following entries:
Checklist of Paintings, Drawings, Book Illustrations and Prints", pages 171-193:
Decorative Paintings for Vauxhall Gardens, pages 180-182, numbers 171-217:
"The following list consists of the supper box paintings designed by Hayman and others and executed by Hayman with his studio assistants c.1741-2. The later paintings in the Prince of Wales's Pavilion and in the annexe to the Rotunda have been listed under HISTORY PAINTINGS."

Of the 47 works listed by Brian Allen, about 15 survive, of which 7 are in the V&A:
No.173 - [then "Untraced"] Museum number E.879-1994]
No.179 - Museum number P.70-1986
No.191 - Museum number P.13-1947 (Also Allen, cat. no. 33, p.111-112)
No.196 - Museum number P.29-1954
No.200 - Museum number P.69-1986
No.205 - Museum number P.68-1986
No.208 - Museum number P.12-1947 (Also Allen, cat. no. 30, p.109-110)

This painting is no.200
Vauxhall Gardens, Yale Center for British Art, 1983, pp.25-35
Brian Allen, "Francis Hayman and the Supper-Box Paintings for Vauxhall Gardens", in Charles Hind, ed. The Rococo in England, 1986, pp.113-134.
For a fuller bibliography see catalogue to Christie's London, Important English Pictures, Friday 21 November 1986, cat. 65.
Lawrence Gowing, Hogarth, Hayman, and the Vauxhall Decorations, in The Burlington Magazine, XCV, January 1953, pp.4-19.
A. The Supper Boxes
"... The Grove is bounded by gravel walks, and a considerable number of pavilions or alcoves, ornamented with paintings from the designs of Mr Hayman and Mr. Hogarth, on subjects admirably adapted to the place..." (The Ambulator, 1774, p.181)*.

These alcoves, the supper boxes, extended along the north side of the Grove, the east and the south, from which a further short row ran southward. The boxes and their decorations are listed in... The Ambulator in this order; the same order, and the titles given by The Ambulator will be followed here.

* The Ambulator; or, the Stranger's Companion in a tour Round London... comprehending Catalogues of the Pictures by Eminent Artists. London (Bew) [1774], p.180 ff., [2nd edition, 1782], p.193 ff. One of many lists of the pictures, printed in guides. This is the fullest of these guides.

[From section 3 of 5 areas of Vauxhall described by Gowing following The Ambulator]
[Acquired by the V&A in 1986, museum number P.69-1986].

" On the south side of the quadrangle another range of boxes in a different style was adorned with further paintings:"
"34 '4. Bird-nest' (Fig.18)
1841, lot 186, ' "Children Bird Nesting" a pleasing picture by Hayman'.... Now in the collection of Major A.S.C. Browne at Callaly Castle. 56 ½ x 91 ½ in.
The design is clearly Hayman's (the boy hanging by his leg from the branch to the left and the anguished face of his companion on the right are characteristic), but French influence is strong in the central group and in the landscape setting. The execution is softer than in any other surviving picture; the hand of a French assistant may be suspected, but the final touches of drawing in the central group (now a little rubbed) seem to be by Hayman."


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Birds' nests; Children


Paintings; Children & Childhood


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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