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Dutch (?), Sportsmen Resting

Key facts
Full title Sportsmen Resting
Artist Dutch (?)
Date made about 1650
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 151.8 × 207 cm
Acquisition credit Presented by R. Goff, 1856
Inventory number NG2150
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Sportsmen Resting
Dutch (?)

We know very little about this lively, unusual painting of three men and three youths apparently celebrating the spoils of a shoot – the men all hold dead game birds. It’s hard to determine their relationship to each other. Perhaps we see a father (far left) and five sons, with their family estate in the background. Perhaps we see three friends with their three sons. All are dressed expensively and are probably aristocratic.

The owls in the foreground are intriguing. They were not used as hunting birds, and appear to be pets. The smaller one, probably a little owl, sits on a cage and is being fed a dead baby bird. Its much larger companion seems to be an eagle owl.

This picture was formerly attributed to the school of Nicolaes Maes. It has certain similarities with his portraiture but is not by Maes. It may not even be Dutch, but could be the work of a south German or Polish artist working in the Netherlands.

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