The game warden, 1883

There the man stands and keeps watch. Like a soldier – alone in a wide open space, without emotion, without joy. He is merely doing his duty. The natural environment on which the game warden has fixed his gaze is far removed from a classically languorous landscape capable of delighting and inspiring the viewer. The sky is no more than a narrow, half-concealed strip of grey. Sunshine, light and shade, flowers and air are all missing. We see nature here above all as a place of work: fields, meadows, farms, fences.

What is moving about this scene is the sublime connection of the outward and inward: in this depiction of nature, Khnopff has found a pictorial language which mirrors the game warden’s mental state. Distance and estrangement are almost palpable.

Oil on canvas
151 × 176.5 cm
Inv. No. 1805

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