Dose of Art #135: Peter Paul Rubens – Wolf and Fox Hunt (c. 1616)

Rubens had a keen business sense for new markets. Hunting scenes on tapestry were very popular for decorating the houses of those who could afford the hunting parties. These tapestries were usually very large, befitting the houses for which they were meant. Rubens came up with the idea of painting these scenes instead of weaving them and this is the first result. Unfortunately, it had to be trimmed on the top and left side (when you look carefully you can see the symmetry is gone). The customers for these paintings were different from the tapestry clients, and one of them complained in 1616: “none but great Princes have houses fitt to hange it up in”.
The scene itself is gruesome; two wolves and two foxes surrounded from all sides and facing imminent death, a third fox already lying dead on the ground. The wolves are painted by Rubens himself, the rest of the painting by others in his workshop.