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This picture was painted by the wife of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, an artist famous for his anecdotal re-creations of ancient Rome, in the majority of which passive, female characters are offered up to the male gaze. Here his wife has taken a more or less trivial scene from mediaeval history as her subject, but in it she has created a dynamic role for the female protagonist. A woman has gone hunting with her pageboy and wolfhound; her hawk perched on her upraised, gloved hand. The lady is actually doing the hunting, not just watching men do it. The artist has used an upright canvas and cleverly telescoped the picture space in order to increase the tension. The hunter, like some mediaeval Diana, watches the intended prey, two herons, one of which takes the alarm and spreads its wings ready for flight, the other hesitates, probably fatally.
oil on canvas
H 102 x W 53 cm (E)
gift through the Clough Bequest