As usual among the French, a halt on the hunt is never referred to as a picnic, although that is exactly what it is. Carle Andre Van Loo’s Halte de chasse is a narrative of a stop during the hunt, at which the ladies meet the hunters at a predetermined place, called a tryst, to be served lunch. The meal, always alfresco, is a rustic affectation of the aristocracy, who can afford to bring prepared foods to be served by servants in the field.  The painting was installed in the King’s Louis XV’s private dining room at his principal château in Fontainebleau.

The principal couple (left foreground) is elegantly costumed. The man’s embroidered clothing contrasts with the more practical hunting attire of the other men, particularly the hunter seated on the ground  (left foreground).  The master of hunt, dressed in red (center mid-ground), seems intent on hosting the diners.  The servants are in various costumes, particularly the African in the red coat and feathered turban. The white cloth is a sign of wealth, as is the food: roast fowl (probably chicken), roast beef, roast rabbit, bread, wine

Featured Image: Carle Andre van Loo. Halte de chasse [The Picnic after the Hunt]  (1737), oil on canvas. Paris: Musée de Louvre.