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Hunting in historical photographs

Hunting in historical photographs

Exhibition 11 June - 30 December 2016, Vernissage 10 June 2016 at 6pm will open the Museum Night at the MP MVM

The exhibition acquaints visitors how members of the aristocracy along with the lower classes as their helpers, spent their free time hunting. On display are mainly images of the pioneer of Czech reportage photography Rudolf Bruner-Dvořák, but also other photographers, such as Josef Pírka, Jindřich Eckert or Julius Schlegel. The photographs depict many famous personalities such as Franz Ferdinand d`Este, his son Maximilian of Hohenberg, František Ringhoffer III., the Czernin family members and others.

The collection consists of 41 photographs from the Scheufler Collection, from contemporary positives and negatives from the period 1870-1914. The author of the exhibition is the foremost Czech historian of photography, Pavel Scheufler (, the digitizing and retouching was carried out by Lenka Scheuflerová.Several images from the State Regional Archive in Třeboň, Department of Jindřichův Hradec, were added to the collection   capturing the local nobility at this leisure activity.  

The vernissage of the exhibition opened the Museum Night at the Museum of Photography and MVM, held under the XII. Museum Nights Festival 2016, organized by the Association of Museums and Galleries of the Czech Republic.  

Copyright text P. Scheufler

The beginnings of photographing hunts can be found in the studios of photographers. A man dressed in a hunting outfit supplemented by a rifle for visual effect, was one of the oldest images often photographed in front of a painted background with a natural motif. Foresters and gamekeepers were also photographed in a similar fashion. A distinctive theme on its own were pictures of hunting dogs and trophies of the hunted animals. They are found in a stuffed form in castle interiors and museums, of which the largest private collection in the monarchy was the one of Franz Ferdinand d´Este, known for his passion for hunting.

At the end of the 19th century, studio stylization with an artificial environment waned and the background behind men in hunting clothes began to be neutral.Photographers more often took photos of the hunt in its real environment. The most important photographer of hunts during the era of the monarchy was Rudolf Bruner -Dvořák, who therefore has the most images in the exhibition.Arranged scenes during hunting in which the participants posed, were ever more often replaced by spontaneous snapshots. They suggest an extraordinary sense of the actual situation and the readiness of the photographer, even though images were exposed on glass negative formats of 18 x 24 cm or stereoformats of 8 x 17 cm.

Besides Bruner -Dvořák, another important Czech photographer was Josef Pírka, who focused mainly on the environment of par force hunts in the Pardubice region. Around the turn of the century even amateur photographers began photographing their friends hunting and thus also suggested the rise of popularity of this activity among ordinary people, which had previously been reserved only for the aristocracy. Along with the rise of amateur photographers the number of stylized comic scenes also increased, which are also an interesting document of the lifestyle at that time.