One of the most popular Italian artists of the 19th century, Raffaello Sorbi achieved enormous commercial success for his luminous and vivacious depictions of the 'good life' set in the beautiful Tuscan countryside. The many esteemed dealers who represented Sorbi throughout his life included Adolphe Goupil in Paris, Arthur Tooth in London, Heinemann in Munich and Schulte in Berlin. Late in his career, Sorbi was also awarded with the Commendatore del Regno, the highest Italian distinction.
The Huntsmen's Lunch exemplifies Sorbi's accomplished manner of genre painting that combines a realist style with an idealized portrayal of 18th-century country life. The scene depicts a group of men in 18th-century dress, regaling one another with stories from the morning's hunt. Sorbi's skill at rendering narrative is matched by his ability to capture the varied qualities of light. The work's sun-dappled effect suggests Sorbi's relationship with the Macchiaioli movement that developed in Italy in the mid-19th century. In response to what seemed to be destructive new advances in technology, the Macchiaioli movement focused its attention on nature by recording the effects of light, shadow and atmosphere in their depictions of quintessentially Italian subject matter.