The canid is central in the picture represented in profile with the prey clearly held firmly with the long and slender jaws. It is placed on a stony slope and in the background we have, on the left, a row of poplars flanking a path, indicating a depth of perspective that Ligabue defined as "distance", while at the top of the hill there is a solitary tree. It is evidently a compositional study, which makes this work an example of primary importance for the technical and pictorial evolution of Ligabue. The environment is narrated with rocks in the foreground and tall grass, beyond the fox, towards the top, but there is also the note of the flight of a butterfly near a solitary flower. The painting is in large, fast, incisive brushstrokes of an impressionistic nature, the sky still has the veils and moods typical of the Roman School, absorbed through the contemplation of the works of Marino Renato Mazzacurati, even if a bright glow of sunset shines through. It is an early work that however differs from others, which we know well, for the total renunciation of the design construction, for the use of color in a constructive function, and for realistic mimesis, for a materiality that is experimentation, laboratory of elaboration of a personal language still evidently in formation, synthesis of some already certain achievements, such as the perspective, the relationship between the planes, but totally new instead the essential iconography – except for the small narrative yielding of the solitary butterfly flight – and the colors not flat but scratching the support with a thickness that tries to become atmosphere.
In this sense it is certainly one of the works most consistently close to the manner of the Roman School, which influenced the artist's language in his youth.


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