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Jan Hackaert and Nicolaes Berchem, A Stag Hunt in a Forest

Key facts
Full title A Stag Hunt in a Forest
Artist Jan Hackaert and Nicolaes Berchem
Artist dates 1628/9 - after 1685; 1620 - 1683
Date made probably about 1660
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 99.7 × 120 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Inscribed
Acquisition credit Bought, 1871
Inventory number NG829
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
A Stag Hunt in a Forest
Jan Hackaert and Nicolaes Berchem

The picture of a hunt, with aristocratic riders wielding spears and the stag surrounded by hounds all ready for the kill, might not be to everyone’s taste today. But the speed and vitality of the animals and the huntsman blowing the horn – the stag itself moving with such energy that it still just might escape – catch the attention and hold the eye. It’s an exciting scene whatever you think of the subject.

The staffage (figures in a painting) is by Nicholaes Berchem, the landscape by Jan Hackaert. Two artists sharing the making of a painting was quite usual at the time. Hackaert’s birch forest has a high canopy of feathery leaves that allows light to filter through to the calm river. Berchem’s lively figures and animals give the drama to the painting: the dogs at the heels of the stag, the riders surrounding them ready to attack, the boy horn blower splashing through the water in his cuffed boots.

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