Brown Hare Portrait


Original Painting Medium: Graphite Pencil
Scientific Name: Lepus europaeus
Region: United Kingdom

Hares are handsome creatures and the reference for the hare in my pencil drawing was kindly provided by Wildlife Photographer John Palmer.

‘Mad as a March Hare’ refers to the boxing antics of hares during Springtime.  During the Springtime a male hare, known as a buck, can often be seen chasing a female, a doe. If the female is unreceptive: in order to defend herself, she will sometimes retaliate by standing on her hind legs and appear to engage in a boxing fight with the buck.  John has described how he has sat for hours watching such antics; his wildlife photographs are stunning and I look forward to producing a series of hare portraits in the not too distant future.

The Brown Hare is the harbinger of Spring and is held in high esteem by many people:  to country folk they were mystical and mysterious and for hundreds of years there have been many old customs and beliefs associated with hares.  Hares are often portrayed in churches and cathedrals with beautiful carvings and drawings depicting a hare sat gazing up at the moon.

The Brown Hare is found in most parts of Britain but numbers decreased drastically due to hunting and the industrialisation in farming during the 70’s and 80’s.  The hare is a rare sight especially in Ireland, where it is hunted with dogs, and it is almost absent from the Scottish Highlands, where they are slaughtered in the 1,000’s in order  to protect the grouse shooting moors.   After the water vole, it is the species of mammal in Britain that has undergone the greatest decline in numbers. The Brown Hare has now been added to the list of vulnerable species.

Despite this hares continued to be shot, hunted and coursed across the UK simply for ‘fun and sport’. Unlike all other ‘game’ species, there is no close season. In England, Brown hares now have legal protection but in Ireland ‘hare coursing’ still continues.

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