Although the title draws attention to the ostrich, the main character in this work is the federal gaucho. Mounted on a hot-blooded dappled horse that seems to fly above the ground, a gaucho pursues his prey, swinging his boleadoras. The countryman is attired in red chiripá (pants) with a subtle border design, a sash that holds his facón (long knife) in place, a jacket to match and a top hat with a band bearing the federal badge, also seen on the crest of the horse’s mane and on his tail. Behind, another gaucho follows, wearing a poncho and mounted on a sorrel horse. The ostrich runs toward the left edge of the painting, opening its wings in order to speed its escape. The landscape is clearly that of the Pampa, unmistakable on account of its scraggly vegetation and unobstructed horizon. The artist’s interest in folk tradition is clear, handling in meticulous detail the gaucho’s costume, his beard, traditional leather boots, the kerchief at his neck and another that covers the nape of his neck, and the raised boleadoras, in addition to the horse’s gear, the burlap that serves as a saddle, leather reins and bit with details in metal. The crepuscular sky, the man in pursuit of his prey and, above all, the artist’s interest in representing the vigor of the horse in full gallop are all elements that make this piece a thorough example of romantic poetry.


  • Title: Hunting Ostriches
  • Creator: Johan Mortiz Rugendas
  • Date Created: 1845
  • Physical Dimensions: 46 x 55 cm
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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