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Gabriel Metsu, The Huntsman, 1661

A huntsman in a fine red jacket is sitting at an open window. He is raising his glass and giving us a roguish look. In front of him are the attributes of his work: a hunting horn and a dead pigeon. For Dutch-speaking contemporaries, the puns would have been immediately clear. The words ‘jagen’ (to hunt) and ‘vogelen’ (to catch birds) also referred to courting and making love.

Metsu was born in Leiden, where he learned to paint very finely and precisely, like the Leiden ‘fijnschilder’, or fine painter, Gerrit Dou. The shiny jug on the windowsill shows these skills clearly.

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