Pieter Bruegel the Elder (Flemish, 1527/8-1569)
etching, Sheet - h:24.30 w:31.80 cm (h:9 9/16 w:12 1/2 inches)
Platemark - h:22.10 w:29.00 cm (h:8 11/16 w:11 3/8 inches). Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 2009.80
In his only original print, The Rabbit Hunt, Bruegel replicated the graphic vocabulary of dots and dashes seen in his most beautiful pen-and-ink drawings to evoke a vivid sense of atmosphere and light and create a deep recession into space. His representations of nature, including majestic mountains-an unusual and popular subject in the flat Netherlands-exemplify an unprecedented naturalism.
What at first appears to be a pleasant landscape peopled by a hunter searching for hares actually
illustrates an ominous and cautionary moral tale. Aiming his crossbow at the two hares, the hunter
becomes the unwitting target of a second man carrying a lance; the aggressor will become the
victim. The rotting stump in the foreground intensifies the sense of foreboding.