Tobias Stranover

Exotic birds with fruit and a dog in a park landscape

Oil on canvas: 65(h) x 46.7(w) in /

165.1(h) x 118.7(w) cm

Signed lower centre: T. Stranover. F

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BP 103



Szeben (Hermannstadt), Transylvania 1684 – 1756 Bath


Exotic birds with fruit and a dog in a park landscape


Signed and dated lower centre: T. Stranover . F

Oil on canvas: 65 x 46 ¾ in / 165.1 x 118.7 cm

Frame size: 72 ½ x 54 ½ in / 184.2 x 138.4 cm


Painted in the 1720s



Private collection, UK



Tobias Stranover was the nephew of the still life and bird painter Jacob Bogdani (c.1660-1724) and came to London circa 1703. Around 1720 he married Bogdani’s daughter Elizabeth and at his uncle’s death inherited his considerable fortune and studio contents. Stranover worked initially in Bogdani’s studio, specialising in fruitpieces and decorative assemblages of birds in landscape. In his mature work his style is more crisp and his palette lighter than that of his uncle, as befits the transition from baroque to early eighteenth century taste.


Like Bogdani’s, many of Stranover’s bird pieces are set in park landscape with classical buildings and garden features. Bogdani worked for King William and Queen Mary, and both uncle and nephew must have been very familiar with the palaces and gardens of their Royal and aristocratic patrons. This elaborate painting combines a superbly-observed fruit still life with an array of exotic birds. Drama is provided by the spaniel barking at the parrots, a motif that also appears in the work of Bogdani, in paintings such as Fruit by a tree with a spaniel barking at birds (private collection)[1].


Stranover characteristically groups both exotic and native species and large, showy birds with smaller ones to create a lively assemblage of avian colours, shapes and behaviour. Trading and empire-building in the seventeenth century, especially by the Dutch to the East Indies and Americas, had resulted in the discovery of many new bird species, and specimens were brought back to adorn gentlemen’s parks and aviaries. Bogdani and Stranover had access to the celebrated aviary of Admiral George Churchill at Windsor.


Dominating Stranover’s composition is a blue and yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna) from Brazil, with an African Grey parrot and a parakeet on the branches beneath it. The brilliant orange vine leaf nearby throws the deep blue-purple of the grapes into sharp relief. In this evocation of the abundance of the natural world, Stranover has added a repoussoir of soft, pink roses, while in the background a tree laden with oranges adds to the elegance of this Italianate park.






Szeben (Hermannstadt), Transylvania 1684 – 1756 Bath



Tobias Stranover was the son of the Hungarian-born religious and portrait painter Jeremias Stranover the Elder (d.1702), who spent the greater part of his career in Szeben (Hermannstadt; today in Romania). Tobias’s brother Jeremias the Younger (d.1729) was also a painter.


Probably trained by his father, Stranover worked in Szeben, Holland, Hamburg and Dresden. He is said to have come to London in 1703 in the entourage of William Paget, English ambassador extraordinary to the Ottoman Porte. In London Stranover spent time in the studio of his uncle, the Hungarian flower and bird painter Jacob Bogdani (c.1660-1724), whose daughter Elizabeth he married around 1720.


Like his father-in-law, Stranover specialized in rich-toned, decorative still life and bird paintings, frequently borrowing motifs from Bogdani. Tobias Stranover and his wife lived near Bogdani in the Covent Garden area of London. In 1724 he was a beneficiary in Bogdani’s will of part of his father-in-law’s considerable fortune and studio contents.


Among Stranover’s London patrons was Dr Richard Mead, the famous collector and physician who treated Watteau for tuberculosis. In 1733 he travelled to Vienna and Germany, and seems on this occasion to have received commissions for four large Still lifes with animals and fruit for the Garden Room of Schloss Ahrensburg near Hamburg. Stranover’s latest dated painting was made in 1731 and he spent his latter years in Kingsmead Square, Bath.


The work of Tobias Stranover is represented in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest; the Kunsthalle, Hamburg and the Landesmuseum, Schwerin.


See: Miklos Rajnai, ‘Tobias Stranover 1684-1756’, Annales de la Galerie Nationale Hongroise/A Magyar Nemzeti Galleria Evkonyve (Budapest 1991), pp.175-178, illustrated.



[1] See London, Richard Green, Jacob Bogdani, 1989, no.11, illus. in colour.

Old MasterTobias Stranover