by A Kladov

The genre of fine art in which fauna plays a key role is commonly called animal painting (animalism). This is one of the oldest themes in art, dating back to prehistoric times. Animalism is often used in painting and graphics, sculpture, photography, decorative and applied arts, literature, and other art forms. One of its interesting features is the depiction of non-existent or mythical animals.

Artists who specialize in depicting animals are called animalists. The animals in their paintings have human intelligence, are capable of deep emotions, and commit various reprehensible acts. The most famous artists in the animalistic genre are George Stubbs, Franz Marc, Edvard Munch, Gustave Doré, Pierre Bonnard, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Rousseau, Edouard Manet, Rosa Bonheur, James Ward, etc. The paragraphs below describe their wonderful paintings in detail.


The Kongouro From New Holland

The Kongouro From New Holland 1772

The Kongouro From New Holland 1772

Leading European animal artist George Stubbs painted “The Kongouro From New Holland” in 1772. The order was made by Joseph Banks, a participant in the first British ship voyage dedicated to geographical discoveries (1768-1771).

The Kongouro From New Holland (1772)

The painting has not only artistic but also historical value. It depicts an exotic animal that the British encountered in New Holland (the name of Australia in the early 17th century). The history of the picture hides scientific discoveries, international relations, and exciting adventures. It's funny that George Stubbs created a unique creation without even seeing a kangaroo in person but based on other people's descriptions.


The Steer (The Bull)

The Steer (The Bull) By Franz Marc 1911

“the Steer (The Bull)” By Franz Marc 1911

The theme of bulls and horses is one of the favorites in the work of Franz Marc, the greatest master of German expressionism, a representative of the Munich association “Blue Rider”. The German artist deliberately refuses to depict a person. He considered animals more natural and pure. With their help, he sought to comprehend the organic rhythm of all things, the spiritual side of the world's creation.

The Steer (The Bull) (1911)

“The Steer (The Bull)” was created by Franz Marc in 1911 and became one of his best animalistic works.


Head of a Dog

Head Of A Dog 1930 By Edvard Munch

"Head Of A Dog" (1930) By Edvard Munch

Edvard Munch has been recognized as one of the leading European artists of the 20th century. His name is on par with such masters as Cezanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. However, the work of the outstanding Norwegian painter and graphic artist is difficult to attribute to any particular movement. His art showed equal traits of symbolism, expressionism, and realism. The artist ‘passed’ through himself all the phenomena of life, creating many paintings on the themes of illness, love, death, and suicide. He repeated the tragic fate of many of his characters.

Head of a Dog (1930)

One day, Munch filed a lawsuit against a neighbor because his dog constantly barked at the artist and the people who came to him. Oddly enough, the artist also had dogs. They often went to the movies with him, but when they started barking, he left the film, considering it bad. In 1930, Edvard Munch painted the famous portrait “Head of a Dog”, conveying his mood with characteristic psychologism.


Two Owls

Two Owls By Gustave Doré (1870)

"Two Owls" By Gustave Doré (1870)

Gustave Doré is a famous French engraver, illustrator, and artist, born in Strasbourg in 1832. Doré showed his remarkable artistic talent at the age of 4. When he was 11 years old, he tried his hand at lithography. But he began his career at the age of 15, working as an illustrator for the newspaper Le Journal pour rire.

Doré's works adorned books by Balzac, Stendhal, Cervantes, Rabelais, Byron, Dante, and Milton 10 years later. His illustrations for Don Quixote made a strong impression on the public and forever formed the canonical images of literary heroes. In 1866, the success of the English Bible, published with engravings by the artist, led to the opening of a personal exhibition in London and the creation of Gustave Doré's own gallery.

The artist also worked in the animalistic genre. One of his famous creations is “Two Owls” (1870).

Two Owls (1870)


Le chat blanc

Le chat blanc by Pierre Bonnard (1894)

"Le chat blanc" by Pierre Bonnard (1894)

Pierre Bonnard is a French painter, graphic artist, and designer, remembered in the history of fine arts as one of the brightest colorists of the late 19th – first half of the 20th centuries. The main subjects of his paintings are scenes of his personal life small private moments of joy. The dining table flooded with sunlight. Summer terrace in the middle of a blooming garden. White cat.

Pierre Bonnard painted cats especially often. People in his paintings pick up cats, let them sit on the table, etc. One of his most recognizable paintings, Le chat blanc (1894), shows a fat animal with long, twisted legs.

Le chat blanc (1894)

Critics often call Bonnard ‘the artist of happiness’. At the same time, his feelings of a joyful state are conveyed not by the scenes depicted but by the colors we see. For example, “Woman Taking a Bath” (1925). The picture's sad, almost melancholy concentration turns out to be much more intimate than a naked body. The gaze glides along the bathtub's edge, drawing the viewer into contemplating the moment.


Lying Cow

Lying Cow

"Lying Cow" By Vincent Van Gogh (1883)

Vincent Van Gogh is one of those artists whose work interests more than one generation of scientists – art critics, psychologists, literary critics, and philosophers. The work of this Dutch artist is important as an organic component of the cultural and artistic life of Europe and the world, as an information-rich corpus of facts about emotional states, periods, and psychology of creativity, the stages of artistic formation of a talented individual, as a model of the struggle between the generally accepted (and not always promising) and the new, not yet fully understood.

The heritage of the greatest Dutch painter of the 19th century is enormous. He created more than 800 paintings and engravings. Van Gogh's works are prized for their contemporary use of color and expressive style.

Lying Cow (1883)

“Lying Cow” was created in 1883. The painting vividly demonstrates Van Gogh's unique technique, recognizable at first glance. The artist painted quickly and spontaneously, without major corrections. Rich colors and dense brushstrokes expressed what he could not express in words. He applied paints using the impasto technique. That is, the paints are not pre-mixed or mixed to a small extent, and sometimes, they are applied directly from the tube to the canvas. The use of this technique contributed to the creation of Van Gogh's own unique style with clear and expressive brush marks.


Le chat tigre

Le chat tigre by Henri Rousseau

"Le chat tigre" by Henri Rousseau

Henri Rousseau is a famous French self-taught artist of the 19th century. He did not adhere to a specific system, drawing inspiration from books, illustrations, postcards, stories of friends, and other people's paintings. He presented ordinary things in a completely new fantastic atmosphere, enclosing them in his visual universe and neglecting the verisimilitude of objects.

Exhibited in 1891, “Attack in the Jungle” (1891) played an important role in the creative work of Henri Rousseau. This relatively large painting depicts a tiger, frightened by a clap of thunder and seeking refuge in the jungle. The exotic theme returns to the artistic tradition inherent in French art from the time of E. Delacroix (1798-1863). “Le chat tigre” was painted around this time, but the exact date is unknown.

Le chat tigre


Head of a Dog (Version Two)

Head Of A Dog By Edouard Manet (1876)

"Head Of A Dog" By Edouard Manet (1876)

Edouard Manet, the famous French artist of the 19th century and a key figure in art history, contributed to the transition from realism to impressionism. Manet was renowned for his ability to simplify details and freely use brushstrokes. Most of his works are devoted to scenes in cafes and depict the lifestyle of the upper classes.

Head of a Dog (1876)

“Head of a Dog” is rather a curious picture of the creative legacy of Edouard Manet. Critics note that it contains references to two styles: realism and impressionism. Signs of Manet's own signature are manifested in his free, expressive brushstrokes, which perfectly convey a sense of texture.


Heads of Ewes and Rams

Heads Of Ewes And Rams By Rosa Bonheur

"Heads Of Ewes And Rams" By Rosa Bonheur

Rose Bonheur (1822-1899) is a French artist and one of the most significant animal painters of the 19th century. She received all her outstanding artistic skills and abilities from her father, the famous landscape painter Oscar-Raymond Bonheur. Although the profession of an artist was strictly male in the 19th century, Boner achieved wide recognition.

The artist often painted domestic animals, sheep, cattle, and horses. Her famous painting “Heads of Ewes and Rams” still adorns the interiors of many homes worldwide.

Heads of Ewes and Rams


Gloucestershire Old Spot

Gloucestershire Old Spot By James Ward (1800-1805)

"Gloucestershire Old Spot" By James Ward (1800-1805)

James Ward is an English artist, landscape, and animal painter born in 1769. At the beginning of his creative career, Ward was an engraver. During his life, he created many historical paintings and pictures depicting animals.

Gloucestershire Old Spot (1800-1805)

“Gloucestershire Old Spot” is one of James Ward's most famous animal paintings. It symbolizes the success of farming by depicting the absurd obesity of a pig.


Animalism has been a popular genre in painting since prehistoric times. The heroes of animal paintings are most often animals and birds. They are usually depicted in close-up, allowing us to examine in detail the author's individual style and understand the feelings he wanted to convey.