Pasture Fire with Animals

William Hahn
Pasture Fire with Animals
Oil on canvas, 1874
20 x 36 inches
Gift of the Carl S. Dentzel Estate
1984.025.263

As a genre painter, William Hahn held a deep interest in scenes of agriculture and husbandry; his sketchbook from the 1860s contains studies of domestic animals. In Pasture Fire with Animals, he renders a realistic scene as frantic horses and cattle stumble over fencing to flee the approaching fire. Each animal is skillfully described in great detail, including the fear in their eyes. In the foreground, a white mare turns to look back at a brown colt, which has yet to jump the fence. The depiction of their relationship—perhaps she is the colt’s mother—heightens the drama of the scene.2 Reportedly Hahn executed a similar painting that depicted horses trapped in a corral by a grass fire.