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Still life of fruit and a pie on a table

The Royal Collection has a stunning collection of seventeenth century Dutch art

Jan Weenix (c.1642-1719)

Dead Hare and Partridges with Instruments of the Chase 1704

RCIN 403375

State Dining Room, Hillsborough Castle

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Jan Weenix specialised in painting hunting trophy pictures. The tradition was stronger in Flemish art, with painters such as Frans Snyders, than in Dutch art, simply because hunting was more popular in Flanders than it was in Holland. The compositions devised by Weenix are elaborate, involving not only dead game but the instruments of the chase – bags, cartridges, whistles, nets, snares, knives and rifles – and extensive settings in parklands or spacious gardens with sculpture or ornamental urns.

Although no country house is shown here, the garden with statuary and water suggests a large country estate. There is often a mournful air over the proceedings: the encroaching twilight, dead animals, an absence of humanity and only the flowers or the trees to remind the viewer of the beauty of living nature, but even these aspects are transitory.