Written by Jocelyn Boigenzahn, Curatorial Intern
From 1663 to 1664, Ruthart studied Flemish animal painting, especially the work of Jan Fyt and Frans Snyders. In his own paintings he generally depicted hunts and animals, fighting or at rest, skillfully integrating them into the surrounding scenery. He varied the themes of his paintings by depicting animals in idyllic settings, or in mythological or biblical contexts. Ruthart had an excellent understanding of animal anatomy and was adept at depicting animals in motion and painting hide. His work is characterized by restrained, cool colors such as the silver-greys, browns, blue-greens and bold realistic colors on the animals, which he enhances through alternating light and shadow.
This work is a great example of this artist’s most noteworthy trait, the depiction of animals. This painting illustrates the biblical story found in Samuel 16:11-13, focused on the moment when the servant urges David to hurry and return home.