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"Still Life with Bird Catcher's equipment"" 1662

101.0 x 87.0 s.d. b.l. "A Leemans. F / 1662 CRE LEEMANS, Anthonie; (Dutch; 1631-?1673) The Hunterian collection includes one painting each by Anthonie and Johannes Leemans, both painters from The Hague who specialised in trompe l'oeil painting. Their preferred subject was equipment used in the hunt, particularly, but not exclusively, that for trapping birds. By judicious use of lighting and perspective, and skilful rendering of widely varying textures each life-sized item becomes deceptively 3-dimensional in appearance. Both paintings employ a palette of browns and blacks on a neutral background. They are well balanced in layout, symmetry being a Leemans characteristic, as is lack of anecdote or movement. Both are strongly lit from the left; the shadows indicate that the viewer is looking from below - these paintings were intended as 'over-doors.' Aspirational bourgeoisie frequently decorated their newly built houses with 'game pieces'. Hunting being the prerogative of the wealthy, the burgher displaying a game piece in his home associated himself with the upper echelons of society.
Each painting depicts decoy cages, hunters' birdcalls on leather straps, stakes for supporting 'mist' nets, and horns. While this smaller painting by Anthonie speaks only of birds, the larger work by Johannes, portraying gun, deer-slaying knives and goose call, refers to much larger game - the ladies. Both works are charged with erotic symbolism, an artifice appreciated by the contemporary viewer.