Attributed to Peeter Boel (Antwerp 1622 – 1674 Paris)
A Dead Hare
Oil on canvas, 80 x 57 cm (31.5 x 22.4 inch); presented in an antique gilt frame of 18th-century model
Anonymous sale, Frederik Muller, Amsterdam, 26/29 April 1904, lot 1110, as Jan Fyt (sold for Dft. 1750 to:
- Jonkheer C.F. van de Poll, Haarlem, The Netherlands;
- Private collection, Italy
Peeter Boel is best known as a painter of hunting scenes and still-lifes of birds and game in the tradition of Frans Snyders and Jan Fyt.1 His smaller compositions featuring a hare or a few birds depicted in the open air owe much to Fyt. He also created large-scale compositions, with fruit, flowers, game and precious objects, many of which convey vanitas connotations. His undisputed masterpiece is the monumental vanitas still life entitled An Allegory of Worldly Life in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lille.
Baptised in Antwerp on 22 October 1622, Peeter Boel was born into a family of artists. His father, Jan Boel, was an engraver, publisher and art dealer; his uncle, Quirin Boel the elder was also an engraver, as was his brother, Quirin Boel the younger. Peeter was probably a pupil of Frans Snyders and later of Johannes Fyt, who is named as Boel’s teacher in the biographical notes compiled by Jan Erasmus Quellinus. Probably during the late 1640s, Peeter travelled to Rome and Genoa, where he stayed with his uncle, the painter and art dealer Cornelis de Wael. In 1650, he became a master of the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke. His marriage to Maria Blanckaert took place about the same time: the couple had four children. After 1668, the artist moved to Paris, where he supplied designs to the Gobelins tapestry factory. In 1674, he was appointed Peintre Ordinaire to Louis XIV, but he died in Paris on 3 September of that year. A large collection of oil sketches and drawings of animals from this period is preserved in the Musée du Louvre.
Hunting and shooting were privileges of the landed aristocracy during the seventeenth century. Painting such as this work were especially valued and collected in these circles, which formed the clientele of Peeter Boel. The composition can be compared to an engraving after a painting by Boel, preserved in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (fig.).2
1. For the artist, see: Madeleine Pinault Sorensen, Sur le vif: dessins d'animaux de Pieter Boel (1622-1674), Paris 2001.
2. Etching by Wenceslaus Hollar after Boel, 266 x 190 mm, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, inv. no. RP-P-OB-11.603.