Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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The Sporting Art of Juli Kirk

 

juli kirk1Autumn Avenue by Juli Kirk, oil on canvas, 20 x 20 inches

Juli Kirk is a classically-trained artist who prefers to work from her imagination. The results to me are both Impressionistic and Expressionistic—the former where the play of changing light on realistic shapes and visible brush strokes stimulate the viewer’s imagination, and the latter where moods and feelings are evoked.

Kirk lives and paints in Easthampton, Massachusetts and Warrenton, Virginia. She is a cum laude graduate of Boston University’s School for the Arts and has also studied art at Queens College (NY), New York Studio School, Cabrillo College (CA), and the University of Santa Cruz (CA).

Juli continued to paint daily while raising three children, riding for a sale barn, running a boarding stable where she gave riding lessons, and training horses on a freelance basis. She was taught to ride by her mother, who was a show rider competing in her youth at the top shows, including Madison Square Garden. Juli got into racing on the fair circuit in western Massachusetts and eventually traveled to Virginia to work with a cousin, Sharon Maloney, who broke racehorses. During that time, a broncy horse at the sale barn bucked her off. The fall resulted in severe back problems.

Fox Hunt by Winslow Homer

fox hunt.winslow homer

Fox Hunt is one of the well-known works of the renowned American artist, Winslow Homer (1836–1910).

In this ominous painting, a fox struggles through the snow in search of a meal. The Atlantic roils below, and the sky above is dark with another approaching storm. The fox has captured the attention of a flock of equally hungry crows that circle above, the nearest threatening to blot out the entire scene in blackness. It was not unusual in the long Maine winters to see a flock of crows attack a weakened fox adrift in deep snow. The red berries peeking through the snow drift provide the only relief to this somber moment.

Hunting with King Louis XV

oudry paintingRendez-Vous...in the Forest of Compiegne: preliminary painting for the tapestry by Jean-Baptiste Oudry at Fountainebleu

As a John H. Daniels Fellow at the National Sporting Library in Middleburg, Virginia, last fall, I did research concerning a series of nine large tapestries woven for Louis XV between 1736 and 1753 at the Gobelin manufacture. Called The Royal Hunts or The History of Louis XV, these tapestries decorated Louis XV’s favorite hunting chateau at Compiègne, just north of Paris. The artist who designed the tapestries, Jean-Baptiste Oudry* (1686-1755), was the official painter of the royal hunts who followed the hunt as part of the king’s entourage. He also painted numerous portraits of the royal hunting dogs.

Louis XV was known for his love of the hunt, and the series was meant to document the ritual of the hunt, the well-managed royal hunting grounds, and, of course, to glorify Louis XV. In the tapestries, as well as in the preliminary paintings for the tapestries now at the chateau of Fontainebleau, there are recognizable portraits of Louis XV, his hunt officers, his favorite horses and dogs, and specific sites in the royal forests of Fontainebleau and Compiègne. I was endeavoring to learn exactly what was transpiring in the images by consulting the eighteenth-century hunt treatises and manuals in the collection of the National Sporting Library.

The Fox and the Bee

fox and beeDrawing by Amy DoverUsing only graphite pencil, Amy Dover has attracted attention to her work throughout Great Britain. Her art has been widely exhibited and has inspired thoughtful and introspective articles in the media there.

She focuses on animals, often depicting the dark side of their enduring battle against man and civilization. While many of the articles written about her art explore this aspect, what strikes me in this drawing—and in many of her others—is how she integrates faithful renditions of her animals into completely separate compositions of unusual shapes.

Amy Dover’s studio is in Newcastle upon Tyne. See more artwork on her website.

Posted September 4, 2012