Eventually settling in Amsterdam, Willem van Aelst spent the early part of his career in Paris and Florence, in the latter city working for the brothers Cardinal Gian Carlo and Cardinal Leopoldo de’ Medici. He was a highly accomplished painter of various types of still lifes and among the first painters to depict hunting trophies.
Many artists followed his example, but few managed to equal his painterly skills or flair for balanced compositions. This painting is a prime example of the type of hunting still life for which he became famous. It exemplifies a taste for refined paintings that accompanied the tremendous increase in wealth in the Dutch Republic during the later 17th century. Although Van Aelst painted the work in Amsterdam, he reminds us of his Florentine past by signing with the Italian version of his first name (‘Guill.mo.’).