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Magnificent Game

The Courtly Hunt in the Tyrol

The rulers of the Tyrol - from Duke Friedrich IV to Sigismund Franz - enjoyed hunting both as a means of courtly display and representation and as a sport and a hobby. A sport equally popular with men and women, it also played an important role in the power-play between ruler and subject. Numerous hunting laws tried to enforce the princely privilege of hunting against the ruler´s peasant subjects.

Numerous pictures and objects document the importance of hunting in court life in the Tyrol between the fifteenth and the eighteenth century. Important etchings and paintings depict the noblest forms of hunting, such as bear-, stag-, chamois-, ibex- or hog-hunts. The exhibtion also includes precious hunting weapons such as spears, swords, crossbows, and guns as well as hunting instruments. Many of these magnificent pieces were once the personal property of the sovereigns and their elaborate deocorations document that they served both practical and representational purposes. The decoration of the falcon lure and gloves as well as of the falcon´s and hawk´s hoods is especially costly and elaborate as hunting with birds of prey was deemed the most regal of all hunts.

Hunting proved also a fertile ground for myths. The exhibition includes not only depictions of well-known examples - such as that of the Emperor Maximilian I who lost his way while hunting in the Tyrolean Alps - but also of both fantastic and real-life events, such as, for example, a chamois-hunt during which cannons were employed. The "horned hare", however, is a mythical beast that can be traced back to the treasury of the Emperor Maximilian I in the Hofburg at Innsbruck. Today this creature - a "relative" of the Bavarian Wolpertinger - is known in Upper-Austria as a "Raurackel" and in America as a "jackalope". Its source is a rare disease in rabbits that has been mystified, altered and forged in various ways. Besides such horned hares, princely collection included numerous other mirabilia sich as "stags with wigs" or depictions of deformed animals.

For this exhibition, the extensive holdings of Ambras Castle are augmented by numerous precious loans from important collections and archives, such as the Deutsches Jagdmuseum Munich, Kremsmünster Monastery, the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, the Albertina Vienna, the Austrian National Library in Vienna, and the Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum Innsbruck.


16 June 2004
to 31 October 2004

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