Research: Luce Center for American Art

Representations of Animals

The representation of animals in art is as old as prehistoric cave painting. Native American artists and European settlers in America alike depicted animals both as decoration that recorded the natural world and as symbolic or spiritual images. Colonial painters introduced domestic pets in portraits of youngsters as elegant props that also suggested a parallel between training animals and bringing up children. Domesticated animals such as sheep and cows populate many American landscape paintings as symbols of rural harmony. Wild animals, observed with intense realism, were very popular with later nineteenth-century sculptors in bronze, as seen in Carl Akeley’s elephants (13.14) and Alexander Phimister Proctor’s buffalo (14.565). In decorative arts, designers sometimes used animals as a sort of iconographic shorthand, as in a lavishly decorated porcelain tea set (68.87.31), where the goat on the handle of the milk pitcher indicates the contents of the vessel.

28 objects are included in this theme.
13.14 Carl E. Akeley
The Wounded Comrade, 1913

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13.54 William Merritt Chase
Still Life, Fish, 1912

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14.554 Albert Pinkham Ryder
The Grazing Horse, mid 1870s

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24.552 Carl E. Akeley
The Old Man of Mikeno, 1923

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32.1602 Edwin Willard Deming
Buffalo, 1908

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32.2092.7 Emil Fuchs
Great Dane, 1893

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40.59a-b Eastman Johnson
A Ride for Liberty -- The Fugitive Slaves (recto), ca. 1862

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40.177 American
Plate (Theodore Roosevelt), 1904

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40.225a-b Canton Glass Company
Bowl and Lid, "Jumbo" pattern, 1882

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40.259a-b American
Covered Dish (Spanish-American War), 1898

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40.340 Edward Hicks
The Peaceable Kingdom, ca. 1833-1834

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40.342 George Caleb Bingham
Shooting for the Beef, 1850

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41.151 American
Pierre Van Cortlandt, ca. 1731

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44.1.20a-b American
Jug, 1860-1880

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48.195 Charles Deas
Prairie on Fire, 1847

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68.87.31 Union Porcelain Works
Cream Pitcher, 1876

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68.87.63 Union Porcelain Works
Paperweight, 19th century

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87.116 Queens Art Pewter, Ltd.
Ashtray, 1930

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1992.11.11 John B. Flannagan
Dragon Motif, 1932-1933

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1992.11.12 John B. Flannagan
Jonah and the Whale: Rebirth Motif, 1937

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1992.11.28 Georgia O'Keeffe
Ram's Head, White Hollyhock-Hills (Ram's Head and White Hollyhock, New Mexico), 1935

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1993.210 Platt Powell Ryder
Fireside Companion, 1889

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1994.58 Meriden Britannia Company
Plaque, ca. 1885

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1995.15 Alexander Roux
Sideboard, ca. 1855

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1998.89 Cornelius & Baker
Candelabrum, ca. 1853

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1999.26.1 Augustus Aaron Wilson
Tiger, 1931

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1999.26.2 Augustus Aaron Wilson
Tiger, 1931

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2000.48 American
Giraffe Head, 1850-1900

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