Hunting, Art and Tradition

Hunting with hounds at Château de Montpoupon

By Château de Montpoupon

Château de Montpoupon

L'Equipage Montpoupon en forêt de Grosbois (1910)Château de Montpoupon

What is hunting?

Also known as venery, hunting has a long history. It consists of chasing an animal on foot or on horseback using a pack of dogs known as hounds. Those who practice this style of hunting are known as coursers.

The season for hunting with hounds runs from September to March.
Hunting with hounds has a specific and complex vocabulary and is deeply rooted in our cultural heritage.

Let’s spend a day out hunting!

Départ de chasse à Amboise (Début XX° siècle)Château de Montpoupon

Hunting with hounds is a group activity and the hunting party, which comprises horses, hounds, h hunt unters and the whipper-in, is called the.

The hounds play the leading role in this kind of hunt, chasing the animal until it is caught. The hunters are there only to serve the hounds.

The whipper-in is in charge of training and taking care of the hounds. Here he is on the left, leading the hunt.

Six species of animal are hunted: young stags, roe deer, boars, foxes, hares and rabbits. Huntsmen never hunt more than one species.

Carton d'invitation, 1938-12-30, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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The first stage of the hunt is the invitation. The hunt master informs the hunters (also called “buttons”) of the date and place of the “meet”.

At the Château de Montpoupon, Emile de la Motte Saint-Pierre, then the owner of the estate, formed the hunt in 1873.

When it was dissolved in 1949, the Berry Hunt took over and hunted deer at Montpoupon.

Carton d'invitation de la Vénerie du Berry, 1968-10-17, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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Even today, a dozen hunts with hounds are organized at Montpoupon every year.

La Rosée (Fin XIX°)Château de Montpoupon

Clothing and accessories

Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre par Karl Reille (Début XX° siècle) by Karl ReilChâteau de Montpoupon

Special clothing and accessories are essential for hunting with hounds. They define each role during the hunt and also enable hunts and their specific characteristics to be recognized.

Special vocabulary is used when referring to hunting clothes. For example, colors are given different names. Red becomes cherry, beige is called doe’s breast and yellow is jonquil.

Veneur en tenue (2012)Château de Montpoupon

Tenue de du Rallye de Montpoupon, 1920, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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The colors of the Montpoupon hunt are cherry with purple facings (pockets and collar)
The garment worn is a thick woolen frock-coat which must be very tough to withstand the rain and cold in winter.

Tenue d'amazone, 1950, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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Women wear adapted clothing when they ride side-saddle.

Tenue d'invité de veneur, Milieu du XIX° siècle, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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Guests must wear special clothes: white breeches and a black jacket.

Bottes de vènerie, 1950, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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Leather hunting boots are high to protect the riders’ knees.

Gilet de vènerie, Début du XX° siècle, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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The velvet hunting vest reiterates the hunt’s colors. For example, the Montpoupon hunt’s vest is purple edged with gold and silver hunting braid.

Cape de veneur, Début du XX° siècle, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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The cape (here worn by Bernard de la Motte Saint-Pierre, the master of the Montpoupon hunt) or cap is worn by men.

Cape de piqueux, Début du XX° siècle., From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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The cape of the whipper-in can be recognized by its edging of hunting braid (silver or gold).

Tricorne à plumes d'autruche pour femme, 1920, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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Women wear a three-cornered hat.

Bouton de vènerie du Rallye Montpoupon, Agry, 1900, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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The hunting button, now considered one of the distinctive signs of a hunt, did not appear until the 18th century.
The hunt’s attributes, its emblem and/or name are inscribed on the button.

Epingle de vènerie, Milieu XX° siècle, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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The hunting pin is used to fix the knot of the tie.

Fouet de veneur, Début du XX° siècle, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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The whipper-in and the “buttons” carry whips. Together with the voice and the horn, they are used to communicate with the hounds, stopping them and gathering them into a pack. A good huntsman is sparing with the whip.

Trompe de Chasse modèle Orléans (1998) by Maison PérinetChâteau de Montpoupon

Fanfare de Montpoupon
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Another essential accessory for the hunter is the hunting horn.

It enables hunters to communicate with one another during a hunt. There are numerous calls (tunes sounded on the horn) corresponding to each stage of the hunt. Each hunt has its own call. The horn also communicates with the hounds which know what they are supposed to do according to which call is sounded.

Modèles de trompes (Milieu du XX° siècle)Château de Montpoupon

In hunting, the expression “hunting horn” is used. The instrument is not called a trumpet.

The horn appeared in the 17th century to add magnificence to hunting with hounds.
Hunting horns are made of brass or copper. They are 4.545 meters long and are tuned to the chord of D.

Three different types of horn were developed:

- the Dampierre, created in the 17th century, is rolled one and a half times

- the Dauphine, dating from the 18th century, is rolled two and a half times

- the Orléans, widely used in the 19th century, is the model still used in hunting with hounds and is rolled three and a half time

Carte Postale d'un Rendez-vous de Chasse à courre (Début XX° siècle)Château de Montpoupon

Preparing for a day's hunting and setting off

Le valet de limier par Pierre de la Verteville, Pierre de la Verteville, Début XX° siècle, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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On the morning of the hunt, a huntsman inspects the terrain with his dog. He notes any traces animals have left in the wood during the night and reports on them to the other members of the hunt.

Carte Postale : Le Rapport, Début XX° siècle, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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Based on the report, the hunt decides which animal it will hunt. Only one animal is chosen which the hounds will recognize from its scent. When the report is presented, hunt instructions are also issued.

Départ pour la Chasse : Karl Reille, Fin XIX° siècle, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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When the hunt sets off, the hounds run behind the whipper-in.

Départ de chasse au Château de Montpoupon (2014-03-13)Château de Montpoupon

Hunt report and departure at Château de Montpoupon.

Dessin Pierre de la Verteville (Début XX° siècle)Château de Montpoupon

The Hunt

The animal plays many tricks during the hunt to escape from its pursuers. On average, any animal confronted escapes three times out of four.

La mise à la voie par Antoine de la Boulaye (1980) by Antoine de la BoulayeChâteau de Montpoupon

Getting started: the hunters lead the hounds to the place where the animal’s traces were found that morning.

La vue par Karl Reille (XX° siècle)Château de Montpoupon

La vue
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The hunt has begun. The hounds follow the scent of a single animal. When the animal is sighted, the hunters sound a call: the view.

Débûcher devant Montpoupon (Début XX° siècle) by Pierre de la VertevilleChâteau de Montpoupon

Fanfare du débuché
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Tricks: the hunted animal will use tricks to lose the hounds and hunters. It breaks cover, that is to say it emerges from the wood to try to distance itself from the hounds in the plain. It goes back on its tracks and mixes with other animals to dissipate its scent.

Retraite manquée du Rallye Bourbonnais (1914) by Karl ReilleChâteau de Montpoupon

La retraite manquée
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When the hounds have lost the animal’s scent, they are said to have defaulted. In spite of the efforts of the hunters and the pack, the animal may not be found again. The hunt stops. This happens three times out of four on average.

Hallali sur pied de l'Equipage par Monts et Vallons (Début XX° siècle)Château de Montpoupon

Fanfare de l'hallali sur pied
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The animal is beaten. It has played its tricks but this time the hounds have got the better of it. It turns to face them and the huntsman dispatches it.

Compte-Rendu de Chasse (1906-03-24) by Pierre de la VertevilleChâteau de Montpoupon

Of the many customs and traditions of venery, that of producing a report after each hunt retracing the route taken by the animal makes each occasion unique.
These reports are sometimes illustrated and can be true works of art.

Habit de soirée de veneur (Début du XX° siècle)Château de Montpoupon

After the hunt

Salle à manger du Château de MontpouponChâteau de Montpoupon

Venery is not confined to a day’s hunting - it is an art of living in itself. Many everyday objects evoke this ancestral hunting method, ranging from 17th century tapestries to present day creations.

Venery is evoked in the dining-room, as at the Château de Montpoupon in the Loire valley, where hunters reassemble after the hunt.

This dinner service was inspired by hunting…

as is the porcelain...

...or more unusual creations such as this stag’s horn chandelier made in the 21st century, many versions of which you will see in the Château de Montpoupon.

Logo de la Charte de la Vènerie, Société de Vènerie, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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Being a hunter also means observing a series of codes designed to make hunting with hounds an environmentally friendly activity which respects animals, but also people and their work on the land.

Since time immemorial, many writers have defined the fundamental principles of hunting with hounds. The Société des Veneurs [Hunters’ Society] now publishes charters aimed at hunters, photographers and hunt followers everywhere.

Dessin de K. Reille (Milieu XX° siècle) by Karl ReilleChâteau de Montpoupon

Hunting has always inspired artists in their pictures, drawings and sculptures.
The Musée du Veneur [Huntsman’s Museum] at Montpoupon in the Loire valley holds a large collection of works by Jules Finot, the Verteville family, Karl Reille, Henri de Linarés and many others.

Sellerie Duprey, 1995, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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Hunting also helps maintain French skills and offers craftspeople the opportunity to demonstrate their talent: saddle makers, master ironsmiths, taxidermists and tailors continue to earn a living thanks to hunting.

Maréchalerie, XX° siècle, From the collection of: Château de Montpoupon
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Veneur à Montpoupon (2010)Château de Montpoupon

As a secular tradition, venery is not just a method of hunting. It helps preserve forests and species as well as the skills of craftspeople.

At Montpoupon, surrounded by the Châteaux de la Loire, hunting continues to live through the Musée du Veneur (classed among the great hunting museums of France) and events such as the hunting festival in August and also thanks to the people who have hunted there each winter for centuries.

Fête chasse nature au Château de Montpoupon (2013-09-01)Château de Montpoupon

Plus d'informations: Château de Montpoupon

Credits: Story

The Louvencourt family, owners of Château de Montpoupon
The Association of Friends of the Musée du Veneur at Montpoupon
La Société de Vènerie
Clémence Bevand, creator of the exhibition
Photographic credits: Jean-Paul Payreault
La Société de Vènerie
Château de Montpoupon
Audio credits: Trompes de Montpoupon
Video credits: Château de Montpoupon

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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