The Magic Inspired By Animals in Art

Article - The Magic Inspired By Animals in Art by Elle Smith - Inspired By Elle

It is common knowledge that over the years pet owners become extremely attached to their animal friends, often spending huge amounts of time and money to pamper their beloved pets. This closeness often spurs pet owners to commission prestigious works of art in the form of pet portraits, to celebrate their relationship with beloved pets and to capture them in a beautiful, magical images much like other portraits.

Animal art has been in existence for as long as artists. However, in recent years there has been a resurgence in the interest for animal art and animal portraits. Dog portraiture was enormously popular in Victorian England after Queen Victoria commissioned portraits of the royal dogs. The current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II also favours this artwork, and has commissioned both portraits in paint and photographs of the royal corgis. This popular trend for animal, and in particular dog art, has been resurrected in the United States, where auction prices and private sales have seen increases in the prices that the public are willing to pay for them.

Many of us grow up around pets, from cats and dogs to more exotic species like tarantulas and iguanas. The world of pets has become unusual and quite creative. The interest in rare breeds, species and endangered animals has grown throughout the world, with zoos, sanctuaries and animal welfare charities scattered throughout the globe.


A simple visit to the zoo can afford us the opportunity to meet and experience the magic evoked by the spirit of animals. This fascination is even more curious as humanity is creatively inspired to seek out more dangerous, wild and endangered species.

Animals and humanity blend together as we occupy the same space on the planet, and share the need to live in harmony to ensure the prosperity of each other. This sentiment is becoming more appreciated each day, as the populations of the world realise the fine balance of the planet is only ensured if animals are cared for. Endangered animals are of growing interest and care around the globe as projects are undertaken to conserve habitation, to be green in our engineering projects and protect marine wildlife. Clearly, animals are a huge part of our ecosystem, seemingly artistically and creatively making everything function seamlessly.


This magic inspired by animals aids humanity throughout its own cycle, as we learn to care for lesser beings, forming companions who love unconditionally and gain understanding of how they assist nature to function.

It has become almost routine to visit animal establishments of some description - zoos, sanctuary, animal worlds or aquariums. The public are fascinated and take respite during those times when they interact with animals are are magically whisked away to a land of wild beasts as they glimpse these species up, close and personal.  We are taught care and social responsible as children with the acquisition of pets. Often this helps us to display empathy and opens our softer side, making us less selfish and self-centred. It has now been recognised that in later life, having pets can provide vital companionship to alight those lost in the colourless spectrum of dementia and Alzheimers.

Those who cannot visit these establishments, or who wish to have keepsakes at home, will buy animal art or commission some. It is now easier than ever to have your favourite pet or animal species, captured in oil or acrylic paints, as a beautiful and realistic portrait. Usually, many artists will magically create an artistic version of your pet, or favourite wild beast in paint. The replica is created usually from a photograph, although there are artists who work from private sittings to create the art painting.

Limited edition and uniquely signed art prints of animals have become very popular too, like the multi-coloured zebra print, where the stripes were changed to every colour in the spectrum, thus producing a great painting inspired art print, suitable for the contemporary home.

There are several animal art paintings which also transcend time, and have found popularity and acclaim over the years: -
  • Lascaux Cave Paintings;
  • Lady with an Ermine by Leonardo Da Vinci (1489-90);
  • Young Hare by Albrecht Dürer (1502);
  • The Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling by Hans Holbein the Younger (1626-8);
  • The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius (1654);
  • Whistlejacket by George Stubbs (1762);
  • The Monarch of the Glen by Edwin Landseer (1851);
  • The Horse Fair by Rosa Bonheur (1855);
  • Still Life with Three Puppies by Paul Gauguin (1888);
  • Two Crabs by Vincent Van Gogh (1889);
  • Surprised by Henri Rousseau (1891);
  • Blue Horses by Franz Marc (1911);
  • Garden Path with Chickens by Gustav Klimt (1916);
  • Two Cats by Suzanne Valadon (1918);
  • The Elephants by Salvador Dali (1948);
  • War by Paula Rego (2003);
  • Officer of the Hussars by Kehinde Wiley (2007);
  • Self Portrait with Monkeys by Frida Kahlo (1943).

    Some of this unique animal art can be viewed by clicking here. You will see that even they are all quite unusual and different, each one inspires magic in its own way. Perhaps one of the most distinct is the artwork of Spanish painter, Salvador Dali, with the gloriously colourful sunset behind the two majestic elephants in the foreground. Many of those art lovers who appreciated his work for years visited his museum, Teatre-Museu Dali in Figueres, Catalonia, unaware that the famous character was buried under a huge concrete slab in the midst of the theatre. His body was exhumed on 20 July 2017 for paternity tests.

    Carousel horses are indeed noteworthy as to the artistic, magic inspired by animals. These circus and funfair rides have proved extremely popular with young and old alike over the years. Beautifully carved and ornate horses, often hand-painted to add to the magic inspired by these delightful and realistic creations. The world of the carousel has a long history. Around the world and perhaps a measure of the popularity is the various names assigned to thees wonderful, magical wooden creations:

    • Karussell (Germany);
    • Carousel (France);
    • Manages de Chevaux (France);
    • Gallopers (United Kingdom)
    • Roundabout (United Kingdom);
    • Merry-Go-Rounds (USA);
    • Whirligigs (USA);
    • Spinning or Flying Jennies (USA) ;
    • Dip-Twister (USA);
    • Flying Horses (USA).
    There is clearly something about animals in art, which is very endearing to humanity. We enjoy and appreciate our animal friends, but more than that they provide a unique and magical connection to the planet.

    Elle Smith 


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