Animal paintings have a huge contribution to art history. That’s a fact whether you believe it or not. In reality, there’s a genre as well named equine painting that describes portraiture of horses. These animals have roamed around the earth long before humans do. It’s no wonder that they have fascinated artists from early times.
Animals in Art History
Basically, the very first cave paintings in Spain and Southern France depict hunting scenes. The meaning of large animals and predators hunting for food is up to this day a debate. Charcoal paintings of bison, horses, lions and rhinos or mammoths were perhaps part of shamanistic and related magic rituals. Some drawings are symbolizing fertility or successful hunting while others were intended to invoke ancient deities from spirit world.
This logic was then maintained in tribal as well as naïve art in all parts of the world. If you want to expand your knowledge how these animals contribute to the art world, then you’ll learn more here in this article.
The Way Animals are Depicted in Different Cultures
In most of the early civilizations like China, India and Ancient Egypt, the trend of linking animals with polytheistic beliefs has endured. Basically, in various archeological excavations, there are numerous images of various animals that were found to be wild and domestic. Since animals were one of the main food resources, their presence was inevitable in day to day activities of man. However, many of them were considered sacred and therefore, they’re worshipped.
If you’d notice in several Egyptian tombs, there are famous depictions of animal companion stands like cats and dogs. The former was associated with Bast and Mafdet and is held as pets. Truth is, these animals were even mummified after its death. Then in China, a lot of real as well as imaginary animals like unicorn, dragon and phoenix were noted to be extremely important and were often shown in various forms of fine art.
Animal Representation in Monotheistic Religions
Monotheism has brought the belief of dominance of God over animal world and this concept is critical to understand animal’s position in the world of art. After all, it is influenced largely by modern Judeo-Christian and Classical Greek culture.
Tradition of animal symbolism has played a significant role within Christianity as well as other related art practices from:
- Proto-Christian catacomb drawings
- Middle age manuscripts
- Gothic and Romanesque relief sculptures
- Renaissance decoration art tapestries, miniatures and paintings