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The hunt is often metaphorically interpreted as the man’s pursuit of woman in seventeenth-century Dutch genre painting. Alcohol, however, has rendered Metsu’s hunter incapable of reaping the rewards of his hunting prowess. The lady, standing expectantly in the doorway with empty glass, looks beyond the sleeping figure to a second man who leans and mocks from a window, arm raised, ready to steal the huntsman’s ‘bird’, or rather his opportunity for dalliance with the mistress of the house.
oil on canvas
H 40.3 x W 34.9 cm
acquired by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, 1845; bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace, 1897