Have you heard the saying "the whole is more than the sum of its parts?" When Artsology encountered this monumental painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, we found ourselves thinking the opposite, that maybe the various parts of this painting do a pretty good job of standing on their own as great and interesting pictures. When broken down into parts, one can really focus on the action of this hunt, the vicious battle and violence taking place in this big painting. When you see these various parts individually, can you imagine how the pieces fit together before actually seeing the full picture? Scoll down and come along for the ride of Rubens' Wolf and Fox Hunt!
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Before we show you the full monumental painting, we're going to show you some details. Here's a close look at the confrontation between the hunter's dogs and the fox.
Moving forward with more detail views from the painting, we also want to give you a little more background on this painting. Technically, it has been attributed to "Peter Paul Rubens and Workshop," because while Rubens is considered the main artist, he had a group of assistants in his studio who helped him with the painting. It's hard to know what exactly Rubens painted and what the assistants painted, although it is known that the landscape was painted after all of the people and animals were completed. Another interesting side note is that the painting does not represent actual hunting techniques, as wolves and foxes are never hunted at the same time, nor would one expect to find wolves and foxes together so that they could be hunted in the exact same location. It would seem, then, that Rubens is simply aiming for a large, complicated, action-packed scene, rather than a depiction of an actual event.
Above left, we have wolves that are so fierce, the one on the left is ready to bite off the hunter's spear, while the wolf on the right is ready to keep fighting despite a big dog taking a bite out of its back. Above right, a fox is determined to keep fighting despite almost getting stomped by the hunter's horse.
Okay, we're ready for the full painting now. Keep in mind this painting is 8 feet tall and over 12 feet wide ... the original canvas was even bigger, but Rubens trimmed off some of the top and left because a potential client in 1616 told him that at the larger size, "only great Princes" would have homes big enough to hang the painting. Even at 8 x 12 feet, one needs a pretty big wall in a big room in order to fully appreciate this massive hunting scene.
You can read more about this art work on the Metropolitan Museum of Art's website here.