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Hans Hoffmann (Nuremberg 1530 - Prague 1591/1592)
watercolour and gouache on parchment
57 x 49 cm
The watercolour depicts a hare surrounded by various species of plants and insects, all rendered in an analytical and highly accurate way. Some instances are the Alchemilla vulgaris (orlady’s mantle) located on the right, the docks with large and fleshy leaves placed below, the carnation on the left hand side and the small grasshopper at bottom right.
This is an example of virtuosity – accentuated by the presence of the fly on the top –. It is connected to Durer’s works, in particular, to the famous “Hare” from the Albertina museum in Vienna (1502).
Besides, the masterpiece was donated to the Corsini family by cardinal Guadagni, who attributed its authorship to the great German artist. Perhaps, this same hare is the one from the anecdotic episode recounted by Baldinucci (1681) about the sculptor Pietro Tacca, who refused to sell it even though he got a significant offer: ‘because I can earn sequins but if the hare goes away, I can’t get it back anymore”.
Today, the “hare” is attributed to Hans Hoffmann, a painter from Nuremberg, well-known at the time for his copies after Durer’s works; it was probably painted during Hoffmann’ stay in Prague, where in 1585 he became the court painter of Emperor Rudolf II.