Jan Miel’s tired hunters halt on the hunt by a rustic inn. They are clustered around a cloth on the ground organizing a meal of sliced ham, cheese, bread, and wine.
A century later, Jean-Antoine Watteau’s and followers’ repas de chasse are exclusively portrayed as aristocratic and fashionable hunters. Miel’s focus, however, is on the hunters’ servants and the inn servers. The principal hunter (deep midground) sits on horseback, facing away from the viewer while his servants eat. The hunter’s lady (left midground) is now approaching horseback and carrying an umbrella to shade her from the midday sun. The scene is rustic and slightly grungy, qualities associated with the group of Dutch and Flemish artists settled in Rome and Turin are known as Bamboccianti, the Italian word for ugly puppet or doll.
Featured Image: Jan van Bike Miel. La Merienda (the 1650s), oil on canvas. Museo del Prado. La merienda is most often translated as a snack, but it might also be a picnic.