Joannes Fijt was probably a student of Frans Snijders and the teacher of Pieter Boel. He led a productive and successful workshop in Antwerp. Several of his compositions exist, and also a number of replicas. As a specialist in still life, he painted both flower and fruit still lifes, as well as hunting and animal pieces. Fijt had an enduring influence on the genre, both in Italy and in the Netherlands. Numerous imitators copied his style. Because of the beauty of his brushwork and the richness of the thickly applied paint, Fijt is considered to be our most important animal painter. In his Bittern and Ducks Surprised by Dogs, hounds lunge from the left of the painting towards the startled ducks and a bittern, who spread their wings in self-defence. The asymmetrical composition and dynamic movement of the vividly painted animals, in addition to the subtle depiction of fur and plumage, gives rise to an extremely realistic and true-to-life scene.