Jan Fyt, following the example of his teacher Frans Snyders, became one of the most accomplished and successful painters of gamepieces in Flanders during the seventeenth century. After a period spent in Italy during the early 1640s, Fyt developed a more fluid technique, characteristed by rapid, free brushwork and a virtuoso description of fur and feathers. These paintings, dated to the last year of the artist’s life, were designed as pendants and show the painter’s masterly technique to brilliant effect.
Depictions of the trophies of the hunt were popular subjects amongst wealthy patrons and collectors during the seventeenth century. With the acquisition of country estates, wealthy merchants and the nobility increasingly lavished their tables with the produce of their domains. The plentiful game depicted in works like the present would have signified for their patrons the plenty and abundance of their lands. The hunting of game was traditionally a royal privilege, granted in fief to the lord of the manor, but other elements of the pictures can be understood to specifically reference the patron’s desire to display his dominance over his estate (heerlijkheid). The prominent mallard in the second of Fyt’s pair, for example, may here also have been intended as a reference to the pachtschuld, a seigneurial tax levied on all poultry kept on an estate. The field of wheat in the other can likewise be interpreted in the light of feudal practices, referencing banmolen, a law which required that tenant farmers must, for a fee, grind all their grain in mills owned by their lord. The prominence given to the wheat in Fyt’s work, emphasised by the stalk in the centre foreground of the picture, perhaps served to stress this privilege in Fy's picture.