Animal painter

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George Stubbs (1724-1806): Whistlejacket (c. 1762), National Gallery Whistlejacket by George Stubbs edit.jpg
George Stubbs (1724-1806): Whistlejacket (c. 1762), National Gallery

An animal painter is an artist who specialises in (or is known for their skill in) the portrayal of animals.


The OED dates the first express use of the term "animal painter" to the mid-18th century: by English physician, naturalist and writer John Berkenhout (1726-1791). [2] From the early 20th century, wildlife artist became a more usual term for contemporary animal painters. [3]


Frans Snyders and workshop, The boar hunt, c. 1650. Frans Snyders and workshop - The boar hunt - Google Art Project.jpg
Frans Snyders and workshop, The boar hunt, c. 1650.

Especially in the 17th century, animal painters would often collaborate with other artists, who would either paint the main subject in a historical or mythological piece, or the landscape background in a decorative one. Frans Snyders, a founder of the Baroque animal painting tradition, often provided the animals, and also still lifes of food, for Peter Paul Rubens; a different landscape specialist might provide the background. [4] The paintings by Snyders and his workshop alone typically lack humans, except in kitchen scenes, and usually show a number of animals of different species (or breeds of dog). There are about equal numbers of paintings of dead animals, usually in a kitchen setting or as hunting trophies in a landscape, and of live ones, often in ferocious combat.

In the Dutch Golden Age such specialists tended to produce smaller genre paintings concentrating on their specialism. [5] Animal painters came lower down in the hierarchy of genres, but the best painters could make a very good living; many royal and aristocratic patrons were more interested in their subject matter than that of the more prestigious genres. Mainly in England, there were still more specialised painters from the 18th century who produced portraits of racehorses and prize specimens of livestock, [6] whereas in France animal subjects continued to be decorative capriccios often set around garden statuary.

In 2014 Jonathan Jones of The Guardian proposed The Goldfinch (1654) by Carel Fabritius (1622-1654) as the finest animal portrait; [7] this was not the artist's normal subject matter at all.


Antoine-Louis Barye, Jaguar Devouring a Hare, 1850 Antoine-Louis Barye - Jaguar Devouring a Hare - Walters 27180 - Profile.jpg
Antoine-Louis Barye, Jaguar Devouring a Hare, 1850

Animalier, as a collective plural noun, is a term used in antiques for small-scale sculptures of animals in particular (animalier bronzes), but also paintings of animals. Large numbers of these were produced - often mass-produced - in the 19th century in France and elsewhere. Many earlier examples can be found, but animalier sculpture became more popular, and reputable, in early 19th century Paris, with the works of Antoine-Louis Barye (1795-1875) - for whom the term was coined, decisively, by critics in 1831 [8] - and Christopher Fratin (1801-1864). [9] By the mid 19th-century, a taste for animal subjects was widespread among the middle-classes. [10]

Wildlife conservation

Many modern wildlife artists or art groups hold benefits to support wildlife conservation, or participate in contests held by wildlife conservation organisations. [11]

Notable animal painters

Before 1800

After 1800


Modern wildlife art painters include:

Forerunners of modern wildlife art sculpture include:

Modern wildlife art sculptors include:

Related Research Articles

Baroque painting

Baroque painting is the painting associated with the Baroque cultural movement. The movement is often identified with Absolutism, the Counter Reformation and Catholic Revival, but the existence of important Baroque art and architecture in non-absolutist and Protestant states throughout Western Europe underscores its widespread popularity.

Frans Snyders

Frans Snyders or Frans Snijders was a Flemish painter of animals, hunting scenes, market scenes and still lifes. He was one of the earliest specialist animaliers and he is credited with initiating a wide variety of new still-life and animal subjects in Antwerp. He was a regular collaborator with leading Antwerp painters such as Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck and Jacob Jordaens.

Old Master Any skilled painter who worked in Europe before 1800

In art history, "Old Master" refers to any painter of skill who worked in Europe before about 1800, or a painting by such an artist. An "old master print" is an original print made by an artist in the same period. The term "old master drawing" is used in the same way.

Sawrey Gilpin

Sawrey Gilpin was an English animal painter, illustrator, and etcher who specialised in paintings of horses and dogs. He was made a Royal Academician.

Melchior dHondecoeter

Melchior d'Hondecoeter, Dutch animalier painter, was born in Utrecht and died in Amsterdam. After the start of his career, he painted virtually exclusively bird subjects, usually exotic or game, in park-like landscapes. Hondecoeter's paintings featured geese, fieldfares, partridges, pigeons, ducks, northern cardinal, magpies and peacocks, but also African grey crowned cranes, Asian sarus cranes, Indonesian yellow-crested cockatoos, an Indonesian purple-naped lory and grey-headed lovebirds from Madagascar.

Jan Fyt

Jan Fijt or Johannes Fijt was a Flemish Baroque painter, draughtsman and etcher. One of the leading animaliers of the 17th century, he was known for his refined depictions of animals and his lush hunting pieces.

Dutch Golden Age painting 17th-century form of Dutch painting

Dutch Golden Age painting is the painting of the Dutch Golden Age, a period in Dutch history roughly spanning the 17th century, during and after the later part of the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) for Dutch independence.

Jan van Kessel the Elder 17th century Flemish painter

Jan van Kessel the Elder or Jan van Kessel (I) was a Flemish painter active in Antwerp in the mid 17th century. A versatile artist he practised in many genres including studies of insects, floral still lifes, marines, river landscapes, paradise landscapes, allegorical compositions, scenes with animals and genre scenes. A scion of the Brueghel family many of his subjects took inspiration of the work of his grandfather Jan Brueghel the Elder as well as from the earlier generation of Flemish painters such as Daniel Seghers, Joris Hoefnagel and Frans Snyders. Van Kessel’s works were highly prized by his contemporaries and were collected by skilled artisans, wealthy merchants, nobles and foreign luminaries throughout Europe.

Events from the year 1763 in art.

Pieter van Bloemen

Pieter van Bloemen, also known as Standaart, first name also spelled Peter or Peeter, was a Flemish painter. He was a gifted landscape and animal painter and was very successful with his compositions depicting equestrian, animal and market scenes.

Events from the year 1611 in art.

The Antwerp School was a school of artists active in Antwerp, first during the 16th century when the city was the economic center of the Low Countries, and then during the 17th century when it became the artistic stronghold of the Flemish Baroque under Peter Paul Rubens.

Paul de Vos

Paul de Vos was a Flemish Baroque painter who specialized in mainly in compositions of animals, hunting scenes and still lifes. He worked for an elite clientele and was a regular collaborator of leading Antwerp painters such as Anthony van Dyck and Peter Paul Rubens.

Flemish Baroque painting Painting movement

Flemish Baroque painting refers to the art produced in the Southern Netherlands during Spanish control in the 16th and 17th centuries. The period roughly begins when the Dutch Republic was split from the Habsburg Spain regions to the south with the Spanish recapturing of Antwerp in 1585 and goes until about 1700, when Spanish Habsburg authority ended with the death of King Charles II. Antwerp, home to the prominent artists Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacob Jordaens, was the artistic nexus, while other notable cities include Brussels and Ghent.

Collection of the National Gallery, London

The National Gallery is the primary British national public art gallery, sited on Trafalgar Square, in central London. It is home to one of the world's greatest collections of Western European paintings. Founded in 1824, from an initial purchase of 36 paintings by the British Government, its collections have since grown to about 2,300 paintings by roughly 750 artists dating from the mid-13th century to 1900, most of which are on display. This page lists some of the highlights of the collection.


An animalier is an artist, mainly from the 19th century, who specializes in, or is known for, skill in the realistic portrayal of animals. "Animal painter" is the more general term for earlier artists. Although the work may be in any genre or format, the term is most often applied to sculptors and painters.

Jan van Balen

Jan van Balen was a Flemish painter known for his Baroque paintings of history and allegorical subjects. He also painted landscapes and genre scenes.

Nicasius Bernaerts

Nicasius Bernaerts, Monsù Nicasio or simply Nicasius(1620, Antwerp – 1678, Paris) was a Flemish painter of animals, hunting pieces and flowers who had an international career in Italy and Paris. He worked for the French court and provided tapestry designs to the Gobelins Manufactory.


  1. "Whistlejacket: about 1762, George Stubbs". National Gallery . Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  2. "Animal painting". Oxford English Dictionary . Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  3. "Wildlife Art of the 20th Century". Woodland Trust. Archived from the original on 30 September 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  4. "Frans Snyders". Encyclopædia Britannica . Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  5. "Frans Snyders". Metropolitan Museum of Art . Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  6. "Why the George Stubbs paintings were worth saving". The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  7. "The top 10 animal portraits in art". The Guardian . Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  8. "Walking lion". Victoria and Albert Museum . Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  9. "Rise of the animal sculptures". The Daily Telegraph . Archived from the original on 14 April 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  10. "An Indian panther lying down". Victoria and Albert Museum . Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  11. "About the AFC". Artists for Conservation. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  12. Plain, Nancy This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon. University of Nebraska Press, 2015.