Ernest Thompson Seton began this painting in 1894. It depicts the view from a Russian trapper’s sled that is being pursued by wolves. Seton derived the scene from a story he later published in Forest & Stream titled, “The Baron and the Wolves.”
Although the painting’s meaning is ambiguous, one scholar has postulated that Seton “meant to show wicked men pursued by vengeful wolves retaliating against man’s destruction of nature”. Seton took great care in preparing elaborate studies of each of the twelve wolves in the pack. In addition, he did several other studies to work out the color scheme and arrangement of the finished painting.
The painting was completed in January of 1895 and was submitted for hanging in the Grand Salon of Paris. The painting was rejected, perhaps because the message was not easily understood. Nevertheless several of the studies were accepted and displayed.
President Theodore Roosevelt was so impressed with the painting that he comissioned Seton to paint a canvas of the lead wolf. The resulting painting hung in the Roosevelt Gallery for many years. It was also used as the frontispiece of Volume II of Seton’s Life Histories of Northern Animals.