A Good Hare Day

Happy Easter from Saatchi Gallery!

On his annual jaunty hop down the plastic raffia-strewn rodent trail, comes, once again, in all his velveteen nosed, droopy eared, pastel egg-concealing splendour–the Easter Bunny.

First, some nitty-gritty details about the origins of our perky rabbit comrade’s connections to Easter. For many medieval centuries, the hare was a favoured motif  in religious art and illuminated manuscripts. Such iconography stemmed from a prevailing belief  during ancient times, held by the likes of Pliny and Plutarch, that the hare was a hermaphrodite.[1][2][3] The notion that these small fluffy darlings could reproduce without loss of chasteness led to enduring associations with the Virgin Mary; although rabbits’ knack for unyielding procreation is also easy to associate with the fecund perfumed greenery of Spring.

The usually dapperly-dressed fuzz ball as we know him first materialized among  festively-thinking German Lutherans as the Easter Hare. Acting in the role of a judge, the discerning little cottontail would appraise children on their modes of behaviour near the dawning of bustling Eastertide. Had they been duteous and docile young German Lutherans, or headstrong and wayward young German Lutherans? After pondering and arriving at an impartial verdict, the wise and honourable Hare would then proceed to dote on the obedient youths by bringing them selections of delightful toys, dainty candies, and brightly dyed chickens’ eggs. Unworthy rapscallions, however, were treated to no jelly beans, marshmallow Peeps, or chocolates oozing Cadbury Creme by the judicious bunny[4].

We certainly think you’ve all been affable lately.

As an Easter surprise, we’ve arranged a basket load of our favourite rabbit-inspired paintings. Crack open a hard-boiled egg and take a peek!

Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, The Leap of the Rabbit, 1911

Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, The Leap of the Rabbit, 1911

George Morland, Rabbits

George Morland, Rabbits

Valentin Serov, Portrait of K.A. Obninskaya with Bunny, 1904

Valentin Serov, Portrait of K.A. Obninskaya with Bunny, 1904

Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, Wild Rabbit with Game Bag and Power Flask, 1728-1730

Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, Wild Rabbit with Game Bag and Power Flask, 1728-1730

William Hogarth, Mary Toft, Apparently Giving Birth to Rabbits, 1726

William Hogarth, Mary Toft, Apparently Giving Birth to Rabbits, 1726

Joan Miro, The Table (Still Life with Rabbit), 1920

Joan Miro, The Table (Still Life with Rabbit), 1920

Henri Rousseau, Rabbit, 1908

Henri Rousseau, Rabbit, 1908

Henry Raeburn, Boy and Rabbit, c. 1814

Henry Raeburn, Boy and Rabbit, c. 1814

Frederick Sommer, Jack Rabbit, 1939

Frederick Sommer, Jack Rabbit, 1939

Michael Sowa, Happy Easter

Michael Sowa, Happy Easter

Vincent van Gogh, Field with Two Rabbits, 1889

Vincent van Gogh, Field with Two Rabbits, 1889

Niko Pirosmani, Rabbit

Niko Pirosmani, Rabbit

Andy Warhol, Bunny Multiple, c. 1985

Andy Warhol, Bunny Multiple, c. 1985

Norman Rockwell, Bunny Boy

Norman Rockwell, Bunny Boy

Hiroshige, Untitled (Two Rabbits, Pampas Grass, and Full Moon), 1849-1851

Hiroshige, Untitled (Two Rabbits, Pampas Grass, and Full Moon), 1849-1851

 

Pierre Bonnard, Young Girl Sitting with a Rabbit, 1891

Pierre Bonnard, Young Girl Sitting with a Rabbit, 1891

Raphael Kirchner, Girls with Animals, 1901-1902

Raphael Kirchner, Girls with Animals, 1901-1902

Albrecht Dürer, Young Hare, 1502

Albrecht Dürer, Young Hare, 1502

William Oliver, Girl Holding a Rabbit

William Oliver, Girl Holding a Rabbit

Lucian Freud, Rabbit on a Chair, 1944

Lucian Freud, Rabbit on a Chair, 1944

 

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Endnotes

1 Chris Chapman, ”What Does the Symbol Mean?”, Three Hares Project

2 Marta Powell Harley, ”Rosalind, the hare, and the hyena in Shakespeare’s As You Like It”, Shakespeare Quarterly

3 Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica III ,1646; 6th ed., 1672):xvii (pp. 162-166)

4 Gary Cross,Wondrous Innocence and Modern American Children’s Culture, 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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