Stags in Winter Twilight
(American, early 20th century)
Both dated l. r. "1912"
38-1/2 x 12-1/2 inches (46-1/4 x 20-1/2 w/frame)
The stag is the king of the forest, the protector of all other creatures. For the native tribes of North America, the deer was a messenger, an animal of power, and a totem representing sensitivity, intuition and gentleness as well as fertility.
A deer’s antlers may represent spiritual superiority. Like a crown, the antlers grow beyond the body of the deer, bringing it closer to the sky and therefore making it sacred. In many cultures, the deer is a symbol of spiritual authority. During a deer’s life the antlers fall off and grow again, and the animal is therefore also seen as a symbol of regeneration.
In Christian iconography, the deer appears as a symbol of piety, devotion, and is used to symbolise God taking care of his children. The legend of St Eustace, for example, tells the story of the Roman general Placido who, before becoming a saint, was out hunting and came across a magnificent, enormous deer. When Placido looked at the animal’s eyes, the light of Christ shone out of them and the voice of God spoke to him through them. Placido, gave up hunting and became a Christian, becoming famous as St Eustace.
In ancient times, kingship was often defined by the hunt for a stag. The boundaries of the kingdom would be where the hunt ended, and the man who slayed the stag would be king.