This animated court hunt scene was commissioned by the rulers of Saxony and is set near their residence, Hartenfels Castle, which stands in the background. The Elector of Saxony John Frederick the Magnanimous, shown in the bottom left corner, is depicted in dark green hunting attire; he spans his crossbow and waits for a stag to cross the river. On the opposite side stands his wife, the Electress Sibylle, poised to take the first ceremonial shot. By spreading various running animals and armed noblemen across the surface, the artist executed an extremely complex composition. The prince electors of Saxony were passionate practitioners of parforce hunting with dogs - elaborate, highly rehearsed occasions, coordinated by the use of signals from hunting horns. The green areas and the wavy river increase the rhythm in the painting. Lucas Cranach the Elder dated this work and signed it with an insignia of a winged snake at the lower right (on the boat). The 1577 in the right-hand corner is the house of Saxony's inventory number.
[The Cleveland Museum of Art, revised 2017]