Study of a Stag
  • A. L. W. Seyffardt
  • (Germany, 18th century)
  • Study of a Stag, 1799
  • Watercolour and gouache, on laid paper,
  • inscribed, signed and dated below:
    Dieser Hirsch von ongerad 18 Enden wurde den 30.te
    Septbr: 1773 von Sr Hoch=Fürstl Durchl: dem Fursten, /
    zu Hohenzollern Stigmaringen in dem Fürstenbüchen=
    Faulbronner Forst geschossen; er wog 375 Pfund; /
    und ausgeweydet 296# das # à 40 Loth. /
    A. L.W. Seyffardt 28. July 1799.
  • 330 × 249 mm
Private collection The Netherlands

This unusual animal was shot by Karl Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1724-1785) in the Faulbronn forest near the monastery of Laiz, one of his hunting preserves in the upper Danube valley in Swabia. He belonged to the Catholic branch of the Hohenzollern dynasty, which had its seat at Sigmaringen Castle. The territory of the principality devolved to Prussia after the abdication of the last ruler in 1849, but the family retained the title.

The depiction of such a trophy, unusual due to the unique form of the stag’s antlers, corresponded entirely to the taste of the time, in which hunting belonged among the high forms of social entertainment. Both the picture’s temporal distance from the actual occurrence and the illusion of the living animal’s real presence were artistic commonplaces at the end of the eighteenth century.

In this depiction, Seyffardt borrowed from an engraving by the workshop of the brothers Martin Elias and Johann Jacob Ridinger, who had carried on the artistic legacy of their famous father Johann Elias (1698-1767) in Augsburg1. However, in this watercolour, the artist attempted to depict the animal more naturalistically, and he corrected the inaccurate shadow in the print. Likewise, the landscape background was reduced in favour of the stag’s effectiveness.

  1. Georg Aug. Wilh. Thienemann: Leben und Wirken des unvergleichlichen
    und Kupferstechers Johann Elias Ridinger, Leipzig 1856,
    chapter: Die wundersamsten Hirsche, no. 353