Support: Light weight antique laid paper
Sheet: 24.3 x 31.8 cm (9 9/16 x 12 1/2 in.); Platemark: 22.1 x 29 cm (8 11/16 x 11 7/16 in.)
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund 2009.80
Catalogue raisonné: Orenstein 82, Sellink 96, New Hollstein 1
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 hunter becomes the hunted. The rotting stump in the foreground intensifies the sense of foreboding.
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