Yesterday I had exactly 8 minutes left for the Brussels Fin-de-siècle museum (impressionism and art nouveau art mainly) before I had to run off to catch my train. So I decided I just wanted to have a look at Khnopff’s sphinx, there wasn’t time for anything else.
But when I was on my way through the sombre labyrinthine museum a huge painting caught my attention and stopped me in my tracks . It is called The Primitive Hunter (Le chasseur primitif) and it was painted by a certain Jacques de Lalaing. The museum bought it directly from the artist in 1886 according to the info sign next to it. It depicts a nude man stringing a bow in the midst of a group of animals (at least, I think he is stringing a bow, the painting is murky). The longer I look at it, the more disturbing it becomes. There are dogs and maybe other animals lurking in the shadows, ready to attack, the face of the hunter is hardly visible. What is he looking at? Is he targeting us? Are we, the viewers, the prey?
From the man with the arrow of a few minutes before to the man with the bow, it was an interesting transition.
It was very hard to take a good picture of the painting due to its size and the reflections of the lights. But here are a couple shots to give you an impression:
That is, however, not the end of the story. When I got home I searched for information about the painter on the internet. I did a simple search for his name but the first search result that came up was someone completely different with the same name: a Jacques de Lalaing who lived from 1421–1453. He was a famous knight and one of the best tournament fighters of that time. He was working for … yeah, sigh, indeed, it seems there is no escape from the Burgundians yet.
Jacques died in the revolt of Ghent in 1453 where he was allegedly killed by a cannon ball, according to Wiki. Judging from the painter’s bio, I presume he is a descendant from the knight.
Last but not least though this is just my personal opinion but when I was looking at some paintings a few minutes ago, I realised how much the hunter reminds me of Adam in Cabanel’s painting Adam and Eve driven out of Paradise.
I just read that they’re usings scanners to locate the stolen and lost JustJudges by van Eyck. Great, I hope they find it. it may be a part of the quest.