Welcome to the brand new Arthive! Discover a full list of new features here.
11,899 artworks, 2,084 artists
Animalism is a genre of fine arts, the main subjects of which are animals, birds, fish and insects. It is worth distinguishing between the artists who introduce animals into their paintings as minor subjects, and the animalist painters who only depict animals, often concentrating on only some of them, achieving maximum image authenticity. A separate subgenre of the direction is encyclopaedic animalier art, which is dedicated to the reconstruction of the exact appearance of animals from their fossil remains (dinosaurs, mammoths, birds, etc.)
Sculptures and drawings of animals, birds and fish are found in many ancient cultures, in the works of art of the Ancient East and Africa, ancient America and Oceania. In ancient Egypt, animals and their images carried religious connotations, the Greeks preferred sculptural images, and the artists of Pompeii included animals and birds in their famous frescoes and mosaics. In the Middle Ages, the image of animals was rather conventional. With the advent of the Renaissance and the growing interest of mankind in the natural sciences, the desire of artists for a reliable depiction of animals and plants revived. Animalism has become a separate area of painting and sculpture. One of the first paintings of this genre is considered “A Young Hare” by Albrecht Dürer (1502). Later, the artists who painted exclusively in the animalier genre often collaborated with other artists. Thus, Peter Paul Rubens highly appreciated the skill of Frans Snyders, who focused on still lifes and hunting scenes, so Rubens invited him to paint animals and birds. Much later, the famous Russian animalist painter Konstantin Savitsky would add bears to the famous painting by Shishkin, “Morning in a Pine Forest”.
The Dutch Golden Age disrespected animalist painters, but their art was in demand at court. The nobility adored images of their beloved pets and hunting still lifes, which were painted, for example, by the Flemish Jan Fyt. In England, thoroughbred racehorses and animals that won prizes at livestock exhibitions often became the object of animal paintings. John Wootton, an animalier, became the founder of the sports direction: in his paintings, he depicted the scenes of racing and hunting, as well as dogs and horses. And the Frenchmen introduced a fashion for sculptural images of animals to adorn gardens and parks.
One of the leading European animalist painters of the 18th century, the Englishman George Stubbs, was not only a painter, but also an outstanding biologist, assistant professor in human and animal anatomy and the author of a number of scientific works, including the Anatomy of Horses (1766). With his deep knowledge, Stubbs created stunningly accurate and scientifically flawless animalistic paintings. His works shocked the imagination of contemporaries and became an occasion for many artists to delve into the study of animal anatomy. The Frenchman Louis Jadin became famous for his pictures of dogs, while Charles-Émile Jacques loved to draw chickens and sheep. Animaliers drew illustrations for popular science books on the animal world and became real educators. The development of animalism was also facilitated by public zoos, which began to open in Europe from the middle of the 18th century and became a source of authentic nature for the artists of this genre.