Boel trained under Fyt, whose work was to be tremendously influential for the artist, and also perhaps under Snyders. He left Antwerp for Paris, where he became the "Peintre Ordinaire to Louis XIV" and provided tapestry designs for the Gobelins factory, which was responsible for producing the furniture for the Royal household. Boel died in Paris, having earned a reputation as one of the foremost animal painters of his time. His work greatly influenced eighteenth-century French painters of the genre.
This painting, executed while Boel was still in Antwerp, shows so many affinities to the work of Fyt in its subject matter and vigorous brushwork that it was once thought to be a work by the older artist. The canvas, which is dominated by the white swan, the deer and the wild boar, greets the viewer with an arresting monumentality. Boel’s expertise in rendering the texture of fur and feathers is immediately evident, and the Italianate landscape that recedes into the left background is an indication of the artist’s earlier Italian sojourn. The piling up of the various game, in combination with the bold use of blues and greens, creates a decorative effect. Such scenes that showcased the “trophies” of the hunt were popular among seventeenth-century collectors.