The traditional gamepiece celebrated the spoils of the hunt and also the bounty of food in the homes of the wealthy, from (especially) the 16th to 19th centuries. In works by Dutch artists such as Willem van Aelst, pyramids of fruit and dead birds (often including mallards), depicted in jewel-like cascades of colour against a dark ground, invoked a golden age of abundance with a mythological resonance; behind the unblemished grapes and pale feathers the presence of Artemis, goddess of the hunt, Demeter, goddess of the harvest, and Dionysos, god of wine and the chase, hovered for the classically-educated patrons of these artists. Stephen Rose subverts the long tradition of the gamepiece in this startlingly modernist work, in which the bent foil roasting tray has become a type of archaic sarcophagus, and the unsettlingly human pose of the dead mallard calls up other gods and myths – Icarus, fallen from the sky, Adonis killed during the hunt, Cycnus transformed into a swan.
Stephen Rose was born in Rochford, Essex, in 1960. His career as an artist began when, aged 8, he saw a print of Caravaggio’s Conversion of St Paul. He was trained at the Medway College of Art (1979-80), Cheltenham College of Art (1980-83; BA Hons in Fine Art), the British School in Rome (1982), and the Royal Academy of Art (1983-86; Diploma in Fine Art). In 1992 he was elected Brother of the Art Workers Guild, Bloomsbury, London.
He has won various awards, including the British Institute Award, 1983; the Royal Academy Painting Prize, 1984; the Landseer Scholarship, 1985; the Richard Ford Travelling Scholarship, 1986 (when he studied at the Prado, Madrid); and the Royal Overseas League International Painting Competition Travelling Prize, 1987 (when he visited in northern India). He has exhibited at the ICA, the Mall Galleries, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, the Royal Society of Portrait Painters and the National Portrait Gallery (BP Portrait Competition); in 2001 he had his first one-man exhibition at Target, in Munich, Germany.
Publications: How to paint in oils, Winsor & Newton, 2008