“La chasse au lièvre" by Armand Charnay, French, 1868.
I came across this painting while doing some research and found it to be particularly haunting. This French impressionist managed to capture the anonymity, the pensive mood, and the ambiguous darkness in moment when a group of men are about to bludgeon a rabbit. It’s clear that the artist has an opinion about this act – but also the complexity of such actions. For example, what are the circumstances? Is this about survival? Is for amusement? Does the rabbit get away? Unlike other paintings where the hunt is glorified, or baroque still-life images showcasing dead animals draped like decorations among flowers and fruits – this painting does not glorify the men or beautify the hunt.
Photo courtesy of the Humane Society of the United States
In a startlingly similar image of the seal hunt, which is about to commence once again, a man stands over a baby seal about to bludgeon it with a club. But, unlike the painting above, we know the circumstances of this action. The seal does not get away. The body is left to rot, a bloody mess, on the ice. It is unnecessary and done for fashion garments that are banned in many parts of the world, yet the Canadian government allows this cruel and unnecessary mass killing – the largest slaughter of marine mammals on the planet – to continue year after year. Click here to send a letter to Canada’s politicians.