Gathering for the Hunt

On a misty morning, huntsmen have gathered around a welcome fire with their horses and eager dogs. Although action is restrained, a sense of anticipation hangs in the air. At left, pairs of dogs cast for the scent, while an excited group in the center have mistaken a man’s fur jacket for live quarry. As is usual in Bonheur’s paintings, animals take precedence over people, who are here indicated in shadow. The animals, on the other hand, are frequently lit by brilliant paths of light. Described in much greater detail, they are individualized through behavior and appearance. Each dog has its own movement as well as its own distinctive black or brown markings. The horses are viewed from the side, front, or back and are different colors- dapple-grey, bay (with black mane and tail), and chestnut. The bay horse and the dog in front of him look directly out of the painting, establishing a bond with the viewer. In contrast, human movements seem less convincing, particularly those of the stiff dog-keeper in the center. Bonheur draws attention first to the foreground group, then leads the eye into the distance with the diagonal arrangement of the dogs, rutted track, and fallen logs. In the background, other hunters, horses, and hounds approach the waiting group. The landscape is skillfully painted, with mists obscuring the forest and creating atmosphere and depth.

Located in the Hull Gallery

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