Wild rabbits were caught in snares (traps with anchored wire or cord nooses): the ‘coney’ portrayed here has been snared by its right hind leg. Pheasants were more expensive than rabbits to catch as they were normally shot using guns requiring ammunition and well- trained hounds. Weenix’s painting is both realistic, with the beautifully observed dead game and scattered fruit, and artificial. The naturalism of its individual elements belies the fact that it is carefully composed and contrived to show off the skill of the painter and the beauty of nature. It would have hung in an elite dining room, to be admired as real animals – roasted, boiled, and in pies – were brought to the table and eaten.
Jan Weenix (1641/42–1719)
Possibly Düsseldorf, Germany, 1706
Oil on canvas
Founder’s Bequest, 1816 (50)