Bruno Liljefors (Swedish, 1860-1939) painted this dramatic scene of a pine marten jumping up to capture a black grouse hen. The marten appears at the top of its leap, its rear feet upraised and its tail in a blur.
|Liljefors, Pine marten and black grouse hen, |
watercolor and gouache, 1888, 34.5 x 48 cm, source
The drybrush handling of watercolor and gouache gives the forest textures a nervous energy. Liljefors frequently painted scenes like this outdoors, with dead specimens rigged into position with strings and wires.
He also observed and sketched living animals first-hand, both in the wild and in captivity. For a while he kept his own menagerie, but he was aware that the animals looked and behave differently in cages than they do in the wild.
Some detractors in his day complained that his work looked unfinished because he didn't paint every leaf or hair.
|Portrait of Liljefors by Zorn|
"Truly, you cannot count the feathers on that duck's wing. But, let me ask, do you ever see the leaves as you search for some living creature in the mysterious depths of forest foliage? You'd have to look too sharp for that. And if you do see the creature, does it occur to you to count the feathers in its wings, even if it stays long enough for you to detect its species?"
The best book in English is: Bruno Liljefors: The Peerless Eye
Previously on GJ: Bruno Liljefors and the Fox