A Hare in the Forest

Object Details


A Hare in the Forest


Hans Hoffmann (German, about 1530 - 1591/1592)




about 1585


Oil on panel


62.2 x 78.4 cm (24 1/2 x 30 7/8 in.)

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Nibbling on a leaf pulled from a stalk of Lady's Mantle, an alert hare sits at the edge of a pine forest. Unlike the darkness one would expect to find in a forest, Hans Hoffmann painted a theatrically illuminated scene. Each plant and insect--snail, cricket, beetle--is seen in vivid detail. The finely wrought leaves of the thistle, the sprawling fronds of a plantain, and the bright blue flowers of the Hare Bell attest to Hoffmann's meticulous treatment of the subject. In fact, none of these plants could have co-existed in the natural world. Hoffmann imaginatively combined numerous individual nature studies in a single painting.

Hoffmann's golden-brown hare is based on Albrecht Dürer's famous and influential watercolor which, much like his Stag Beetle, shows a hare against a plain ground. Hoffmann had seen Dürer's hare while in Nuremburg. Later, when he went to work in the court of Emperor Rudolf II, he helped the Emperor acquire the watercolor for his Kunstkammer. Hoffmann's hare differs from Dürer's however, appearing amid a striking arrangement of elegant plants and insects. At the time it was painted, this arrangement of nearly life-size subjects was entirely unique, not only within Hoffmann's body of work, but also within the tradition of German nature study.

1585 - 1612

Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, 1552 - 1612 (Prague Castle, Prague), purchased from the artist, 1585, by inheritance to his brother.

1612 - 1619

Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor, 1557 - 1669 (Prague Castle, Prague), by inheritance to his cousin.

1619 - 1637

Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor, 1578 - 1637 (Prague Castle, Prague), by inheritance to his son.

1637 - 1657

Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, 1608 - 1657 (Prague Castle, Prague), looted by the Swedish Army, 1648.

1648 - 1648

Swedish Army, by gift to Christina, February 1649.

1648 -

Queen Christina of Sweden, 1626 - 1689 (Stockholm)

about 1675 - 1800

Possibly X. Pertuis

Elsie Mackay (Bishopthorpe, Yorkshire, England)

and Mary Mackay (Bishopthorpe, Yorkshire, England), to Alan and Lucy Mackay.

- about 1961

Alan Mackay (Wheldrake, Yorkshire, England)

- about 1961

and Lucy Mackay (Wheldrake, Yorkshire, England), given to Ann Hartas and Norman Hartas, about 1961.

about 1961 - 1983

Anne Hartas, née Mackay (Middleton, near Pickering, North Yorkshire, England)

about 1961 - 1983

and Norman Hartas (Middleton, near Pickering, North Yorkshire, England) [sold, Sotheby's London, November 30, 1983, lot 49, to Paul Josefowitz and Ellen Melas Kyriazi.]

1983 - 2001

Paul Josefowitz (London, England)

1983 - 2001

and Ellen Melas Kryiazi (London, England) [unsold, Sotheby's, London, July 4, 1990, lot 14.], sold half share to Robert Noortman Gallery, 1997.

1997 - 2001

and Robert Noortman Gallery [sold, Sotheby's, New York, January 25, 2001, lot 91, to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]

Albrecht Dürer und die Tier- und Pflanzenstudien der Renaissance (April 18 to June 30, 1985) (49)
  • Albertina, (Vienna), April 18 to June 30, 1985
Prag um 1600: Kunst und Kultur am Hofe Kaiser Rudolfs II (June 10, 1988 to February 26, 1989) (138)
  • Villa Hügel, (Essen), June 10 to October 30, 1988
  • Kunsthistorisches Museum, (Vienna), November 24, 1988 to February 26, 1989
Picturing the Natural World (June 17 to September 7, 2003) (138)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 17 to September 7, 2003
Education Resources

Education Resource




I Spy (Camouflaged Animals in Art!)

Students discuss animal camouflage and write about an animal and its relationship to its environment. Tied to Open Court unit Look Again.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts; Science


Long-Term Unit

Tactile Poem—Forest Textures

Lesson in which students identify new texture vocabulary using a work of art, and use it to write a poem.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts; ESL (English as a Second Language)

K-2; 3-5

Single Class Lesson

Related Media
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    Audio: A Hare in the Forest
  • /
    Audio: A Hare in the Forest (Family; Animals)