The Return from the Hunt

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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Elegant couples rest after the hunt in an idyllic sunlit landscape, reflecting the traditional association of hunting and courtship. The gushing fountain, the woman holding flowers and the flirtation between the man holding a falcon and his companion add to the light-hearted romantic atmosphere. Falconry was a popular aristocratic pursuit. Dogs stare longingly at a group of dead animals in the bottom left corner. While the hare and duck were presumably victims of the falcon, the deer, boar and bugle allude to an earlier scene depicted in The Boar Hunt, a companion painting also in the National Gallery which conveys rapid movement and tension. This subject was influenced by seventeenth-century Dutch scenes of everyday life and in turn set a precedent for later depictions of groups of figures in idealised settings, known as fêtes galantes.

The National Gallery, London



The Return from the Hunt


about 1700


Oil on canvas


H 109 x W 104 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1982

Work type



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Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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