Huntsmen and Company Observing Dogs Retrieving Ducks in a Pond (The Month of April)

Pieter Stevens Netherlandish

Not on view

To the left of this picture, a company of huntsmen has gathered at the banks of a pond. A couple of their hunting dogs have jumped into the water to chase after birds. Further in the distance to the right, fashionably dressed men and women are strolling on the opposite banks, possibly coming from the country estate that looms in the central background.

This drawing by the Netherlandish artist Pieter Stevens is likely to have been part of a set of print designs, representing the months of the year. Three other drawings belonging to this group are kept in the Albertina in Vienna and represent the months March, July, and December. Our sheet probably is meant to symbolize April, since in early modern iconography, hunting and philandering were both regarded as typical activities for that time of year. An engraving after our design, however, has not been traced.[2]

The blue, reddish-brown and dark brown watercolor are often encountered in Stevens's print designs. It is possible, however, that over time, these colors have lost some of their vivacity, which may account for the noticeable imbalance between the overtly brown foreground scene and the less legible, hazy landscape in the background. The high finish of these sheets might suggest that, after having been used by the engraver, the pictures would also have been saleable as artworks in their own right.

Pieter Stevens was a landscape painter and draftsman who had settled in Prague in 1594. He was one of many international artists that were attracted to the Habsburg court by the patronage of Emperor Rudolf II (1552–1612). Like his fellow countryman, Roelant Savery (1576–1639), Stevens specialized in forest interiors and panoramic views of the Bohemian countryside.

[1] The sheets measure approximately 22 x 32 cm. and are all executed in pen and brown ink and blue and brown washes.

[2] This series, engraved by Aegidius Sadeler (1570–1629), is not included in Hollstein. Impressions of the months January, February, May, June, July, August, October, November and December are known to exist in the Rijksprentenkabinet in Amsterdam (cf. for example

Huntsmen and Company Observing Dogs Retrieving Ducks in a Pond (The Month of April), Pieter Stevens (Netherlandish, Mechelen ca. 1567–after 1624 Prague), Pen and brown and black ink, brown wash, watercolor and gouache, over black chalk

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.