A beached whale near Beverwijk, The Camelopard, The Monstrous Pig, The Famous Porcupine, Dürer’s Rhinoceros: these are but a few of the beautiful and bizarre creatures that feature in this delightful book.
Works by Goya, Dürer, Stubbs and Bewick stand alongside prints by less familiar artists, each selected for its graphic strength, charm and narrative interest. Here are natural history studies, masterpieces from the British Museum's exceptional and international collection of religious and classical old master prints, genre pieces, book illustrations, satires and popular prints.
This title accompanies the British Museum touring exhibition Curious beasts: animal prints from Dürer to Goya, 5 October 2013 to 15 December 2013 at the Compton Verney gallery in Warwickshire.
More about Animal Prints from the British Museum
In the visual arts of the fifteenth to the early nineteenth centuries in Europe, animals were understood in relation to the human world. They were used as symbols or in allegory (characters representing abstract ideas in poetry or prose). They were also seen as essentially useful to mankind, whether as animals of the farm, estate or household, or as menageries (animal exhibits) in travelling shows.
At the same time, rapidly increasing investigation of the natural world engaged artists in the problems of accurate representation. Prints were particularly important in the dissemination of natural historical information (or misinformation) across a wide, international audience.
Emphasising the connections between prints which may appear to be very different, the book explores how and why people engage with the natural world, how it can challenge or meet their expectations, and how this is reflected in the variety of prints made in this period.
Alison E. Wright is a curator of prints and drawings at the British Museum and curator of the Museum’s touring exhibition, Curious beasts: animal prints from Dürer to Goya.