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In the Company of Animals: Art, Literature, and Music at the Morgan
March 2 through May 20, 2012

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Jim Dine (b. 1935)
Blind Owl, 2000
Charcoal and oil on serigraph
35 1/2 x 30 1/2 (902 x 775 mm)
Thaw Collection; 2010.142
© 2011 Jim Dine / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York




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James Gillray (1756–1815)
Dame Rat, and Her Poor Little Ones
London: Publish'd March 26th 1782 by J. Browning, Oxford Street
Bequest of Gordon N. Ray, 1987; 1986.172

FOX AND RATS
The English caricaturist James Gillray often used animals to convey the prevailing opinions of the day. The central figure here is one of Gillray's repeated targets, the prominent politician Charles Fox. He stands with his back to Lord Hertford, who ignores him, while Hertford's rat-headed wife and children greet him. A new government meant that Hertford was forced to resign his post as lord chamberlain, the organizer of official functions for the royal household. The newspapers accused Lady Hertford of trying to curry favor with Fox. Rats, like foxes, were thought to be cunning and duplicitous.


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J. J. Grandville, (1803–1847)
Les métamorphoses du jour
Paris: Chez Bulla et chez Martinet, 1829
Bequest of Gordon N. Ray, 1987; PML 140303

Schoolchildren and Teacher
This hand-colored book was the publication that brought the French caricaturist J. J. Grandville to prominence. The seventy scenes of humans with animal faces playing out scenes from Parisian middle-class life highlight society's absurdities. Here the parrot children, who are meant to demonstrate their rote learning of verbs, respond to their donkey teacher, his nose buried in the book, with a cheeky reply: "we are tired; you tire us."


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Jacob Hoefnagel (1575–ca. 1630)
Orpheus Charming the Animals
Watercolor and gouache, heightened with white gouache, over traces of black chalk, on vellum mounted on panel, bordered in gold
Signed and dated at lower left in gold, Ja: Houfnagl / 1613.
6 9/16 x 8 1/4 inches (166 x 210 mm)
Purchased on the Sunny Crawford von Bülow Fund 1978; 1998.22

Orpheus Charms the Animals
In Greek mythology, the hero Orpheus was known for his musical abilities, capable of charming any living creature. Orpheus and his animals were a popular subject for artists when Hoefnagel, a court painter to Rudolf II in Prague from 1602 to 1613, did this watercolor. The popularity reflected a general interest in encyclopedic representations of animals. Hoefnagel was known for his accomplished depictions of natural history subjects, and this background was put to good use here. Orpheus's companions include a guinea pig, ostrich, porcupine, and turkey as well as an elephant and rhinoceros across the lake.


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Nicolas Hüet, the Younger (1770–1828)
Study of the Giraffe Given to Charles X by the Viceroy of Egypt, 1827
Watercolor and some gouache, over traces of black chalk
Signed and dated, in pen and brown ink, at lower left, hüet 1827; numbered for scale at lower right, 1/16.
10 1/16 x 7 5/8 inches (254 x 194 mm)
Purchased on the Sunny Crawford von Bülow Fund, 1978; 1994.1

A Parisian Giraffe and her Caretaker
This drawing, most probably from life, is of the famous nineteenth-century giraffe known as Zarafa with Atir, her Sudanese caretaker. Atir lived with Zarafa for eighteen years in the Jardin des Plantes and "slept within scratching reach of her head." A political gift from the Ottoman viceroy of Egypt, Muhammed Ali, to Charles X of France, the giraffe was part of an attempt to convince the king not to interfere in the war between the Ottoman Empire and the Greeks. Her journey from Sudan to Paris took two years and entailed two boat rides and a 550-mile walk from Marseilles to Paris. It is estimated that over 100,000 people—an eighth of the population of Paris at the time—came to see her.


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Edward Lear (1812–1888)
Parakeet in Flight
Watercolor, over some pencil, on wove paper
7 x 9 1/8 inches (178 x 234 mm)
Gift of Mrs. Vincent Astor; 1977.23

Edward Lear's Bird
The affinity between serious scientific study of animals and flights of the imagination is epitomized by the works of the English artist and writer Edward Lear. Best remembered today for his nonsense poetry, especially the poem The Owl and the Pussycat, Lear began his career as an "ornithological draughtsman" employed by the Zoological Society of London. His first publication, printed when he was nineteen years old, was Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or parrots, in 1830, to which the drawing of the parakeet is likely related.

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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.