Boar Hunting in a Verdant Landscape

Gouache on Vellum heightened w
7 5/16 x 20 13/16 inches, 18.3 x 52 cm
Essay: 

This fascinating and early gouache of a boar hunt may have once been part of a larger album. The obviously skilled artist spared no expense in materials or details. Gold heightening is used to emphasize the scattered fires as well as the horses' bridles. Stylistically the gouache is reminiscent of much earlier manuscript illuminations and the richness in decoration harks back to the International Gothic style. The tradition of boar hunt depiction has a long history in Netherlandish art, from perhaps one of the earliest and best known depictions by the Limbourg Brothers in the Duc de Berry's Très RIches Heures of 1412-16 up to the much larger and more dramatic scenes by Frans Snijders and further on into the 18th Century (for example Jan Frans van Bredael in the Hermitage Museum which also shows the use of screens and a spectator's tent).

Hunts of this type were commonplace in Eastern Europe and Flanders during the early 17th Century. The artist has chosen one viewpoint to describe several different elements of the hunt. The numerous canvas screens were usually erected in a funnel shape and individual animals, be it a boar or a stag, were then driven into ever narrowing spaces by men on horseback and dogs (which are depicted here wearing spiked coats to protect them against being gored by the boars). As always in these scenes there are numerous spectators who watch safely from behind the screens. The lack of leaf on the tree suggests that this was an autumn and winter pursuit. The artist has managed to portray many facets of the hunt in one panoramic overview which makes this a particularly fine example of its type.