Object Image

The Rat-Catcher and his Dogs

The village rat-catcher, resting on the steps, is identified not only by the cage containing live vermin at his side, but by his unusual hat-band, portraying his prey. A cat stalking the caged rats, ignored by the man absorbed in playing with his terriers, introduces a note of humour to the scene. The purpose of the rat-catcher's occupation was probably straightforward pest control, although 'ratting' - when dogs competed to kill live rats in a pit - was a popular blood sport. Woodward was employed as an animal painter by Queen Victoria but he also produced landscapes and historical subjects.

Credit: Bequeathed by Edward Archer 1892...

exhibited 1824
Oil paint on mahogany
432.0 x 540.0mm
Image and text © Tate Britain, 2022

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Tate Britain
Permanent collection