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date: 22 August 2019

Animal subjectslocked

  • Lucia Tongiorgi Tomasi
  •  and Edward J. Nygren

Extract

Although animals have been represented in the art of almost all cultures from prehistoric times, the depiction of animal subjects in painting and the graphic arts became a particularly well-established tradition in Western art following the Renaissance, as European explorers discovered new species, as the demand for illustrated books increased and as the traditional Christian interpretation of the relation between humanity and the rest of creation began to be reappraised. Moreover, while hunting, falconry and similar pursuits continued to provide artists with subjects, animals came to have a more complex relation to society, as curiosities, status symbols or in a domesticated role. Animals continued to occupy an ambiguous role in 19th- and 20th-century Western art, as the subjects of human science, as opportunities to demonstrate technique, and as the instinctive, unrestrained vehicles for a range of Romantic and post-Romantic symbolic possibilities. It is this Western tradition that is discussed in this article; discussion of the depiction of animal subjects in the art of other cultures may be found in the respective regional and cultural surveys....

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