Description Hunting was a privilege and favored pastime of the aristocracy. Most hunting took place in parks and private hunting preserves, like those maintained by Archdukes Albert and Isabella near their palace in Brussels in the years around 1610-20, for which see Jan Brueghel the Elder's The Archdukes Pausing During a Hunt in the Preserves of Mariemont Palace (ca. 1611, Museo del Prado). Depictions of hunts with ancient gods and goddesses of Olympus, especially Diana and her nymphs, lent a romantic aura and classical validation to an everyday pastime. In Genesis, God gave Adam dominion over the animals; in the 1600s, animals, like all of creation, were still thought by most Europeans to have been created for human benefit. The dogs in the pack of hunting hounds in the rear are similar to those with Archduke Albert in The Archdukes Visiting the Collection of Pierre Roose. The prominence of the wolf may refer to the official encouragement to kill wolves, as their populations in the countryside had grown in response to the availability of battlefield carnage. The animals and birds appear to have been painted by Jan Brueghel the younger responding to similar paintings by his father, for example a differently composed Diana and her Nymphs after the Hunt, dated 1620 (Munich, Alte Pinakothek). The sleeping figures of Diana and her nymphs and the satyrs watching them are by another, unidentified artist from the circle of Peter Paul Rubens. The feathery foliage and distant view of the landscape call to mind the approach of the Flemish landscapist Lucas van Uden (1595-1672) as suggested by Eric Zafran (1988). The present painting was previously attributed to Frans Snyders (1579-1657) and collaborators, but this is not that artist's more robustly painterly style. The composition was apparently very successful as there are other versions.
|12/14/1981||Examination||examined for condition|
- Public Property. 2012.
Provenance Justice James A. Murnaghan, Dublin, Ireland [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Dr. Francis D. Murnaghan, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Francis D. Murnaghan Fund [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1973, by gift.
Credit Gift of the Dr. Francis D. Murnaghan Fund, 1973
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