The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of February 24, 2024

The Rabbit Hunt

The Rabbit Hunt

(Flemish, 1527/8–1569)
Platemark: 22.1 x 29 cm (8 11/16 x 11 7/16 in.); Sheet: 24.3 x 31.8 cm (9 9/16 x 12 1/2 in.)
Catalogue raisonné: Orenstein 82, Sellink 96, New Hollstein 1
Location: not on view

Did You Know?

Pieter Bruegel the Elder's paintings, drawings, and prints often drew from popular proverbs, translating them into pictorial form. In the case of this etching, "A hare yourself, you hunt for prey" is perhaps the most apt.


In this etching considered the artist's only autograph print, Pieter Bruegel the Elder replicated the graphic vocabulary of dots and dashes of his 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 that the artist helped to usher in. What at first appears to be a pleasant landscape with a hunter aiming his crossbow at some rabbits in the grass becomes more ominous when we notice the spear-bearing soldier stalking not the rabbits, but the hunter. Bruegel often translated popular proverbs into pictorial form: in this case, "A hare yourself, you hunt for prey" is the most apt. In Bruegel's world, reversals such as this suggested that humans, vainly believing they control their fate, are instead subject to powers outside of their control.
  • 1987
    Private collection, Antwerp
    Albert van Loock, Brussels
    Theodore Donson, New York
    Samuel Josefowitz, Lausanne, Switzerland and Whitchurch, UK
    The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Treasures on Paper from the Collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (organizer) (March 9-June 8, 2014).
    Love Gardens / Forbidden Fruit. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH (organizer) (July 2-October 29, 2023).
  • {{cite web|title=The Rabbit Hunt|url=false|author=Pieter Bruegel|year=1560|access-date=24 February 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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