Carl Frederik Holbeck (1811-1880) was born in Denmark and studied sculpture at the Academy in Copenhagen from 1824, winning medals for his work in 1832 and 1835. He subsequently moved to Rome in 1841, where he trained under Thorvaldsen, becoming one of his principal assistants and working on several of Thorvaldsen's marble designs, amongst which the bust of Frederik VI for the memorial in Skanderborg, Jutland. Holbeck remained in Italy after Thorvaldsen's return to Denmark, took over his workshop on the master's death and continued working in Rome until his own death in 1880.
Holbeck exhibited prolifically at the Charlottenborg Exhibition from 1836 to 1872 and several of his works are in museums today, two marbles in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, one in the Gallery Lotzbech, Munich, Two Sleeping Children in the NY Carlsberg Glyptothek, and another in the Collection of Lord Baltimore. Holbeck's celebrated works include his 1841 marble Slumbering Bacchus, his 1851 marble Dying Eurydice and his 1872 marble Infant Bacchus.
The present marble was acquired by Frederik Marcus, Count Knuth in 1856 during his travels in Italy where he had met Holbeck. Count Knuth (1813-1856) was the Danish Foreign Secretary between the two wars with Prussia. He was also a patron and collector of the fine arts and built a new castle at Knuthenborg, Denmark, for which the present marble and four further sculptures were acquired. He was familiar with Rome, for he had spent fourteen months there in 1835-6 in the company of the leading intellectuals and politicians of the day. He had returned in 1856 in a last attempt to restore his failing health, and it is at this point that he visited his compatriot Holbeck, and acquired the present handsome Hunter.
Originally inspired by Antique models of striding athletes, such as the figure of Alexander from the group of Alexander and Bucephalus on the Piazza del Quirinale, Rome, the present Hunter also naturally reflects compositions by Holbeck's master, Thorvaldsen. It echoes, similarly, Canova's Perseus, though the geometrical vigor of the Perseus is softened by a grace and languor typical of such works by Thorvaldsen as the Hebe and Ganymede. It is this subtle combination of Neo-classical purity with a rhythm and naturalism that creates a lively and noble statue in the Hunter, expertly crafted and designed by one of the major Danish 19th century sculptors.