Three horse riders are harassing a hippopotamus. The powerful jaws of the animal are the centre of the composition. A dog is attacking the cornered animal. Next to it a fallen hunter. Bottom left there is a dead hunter, who will soon be devoured by a crocodile. The crocodile in its turn is attacked by a hunting dog. From 1615 to 1620 Soutman worked in Rubens’s workshop, where he presumably was involved in the creation of the great hunting works. The hunting scenes belong to the most dynamic and monumental works that Rubens made; the representations are full of aggression and physical energy. Expressions betraying horror, fear or bloodthirstiness in the hunters, crazed animals with tusks that wriggle every which way to ward off the attacks, and prancing horses. The scenes are so terrifying that they were found to be almost too violent in Rubens’s time. Through this approach Rubens renewed the genre of the hunting scenes. The basis for his compositions he found with grandmasters such as the Italian artist Tempesta. Soutman knew how to strikingly and perfectly translate the tension, power and monumentality in these hunting scenes. The print is based on a painting by Rubens that was part of a series of four intended for the Duke of Bavaria (Germany) and now hangs in the Pinakothek in Munich (Germany).
The hippopotamus and crocodile hunt
1644 – 1650
652 mm x 480 mm
CC BY (Creative Commons 4.0)