Picturing Animals in Britain c. 1750-1850 Diana Donald

Publication date:
30 Nov 2007
Paul Mellon Centre
256 pages: 254 x 190mm
140 b-w + 140 color illus.


From fine art paintings by such artists as Stubbs and Landseer to zoological illustrations and popular prints, a vast array of animal images was created in Britain during the century from 1750 to 1850. This highly original book investigates the rich meanings of these visual representations as well as the ways in which animals were actually used and abused. What Diana Donald discovers in this fascinating study is a deep and unresolved ambivalence that lies at the heart of human attitudes toward animals.


The author brings to light dichotomies in human thinking about animals throughout this key period: awestruck with the beauty and spirit of wild animals, people nevertheless desired to capture and tame them; the belief that other species are inferior was firmly held, yet at the same time animals in stories and fables were given human attributes; though laws against animal cruelty were introduced, the overworking of horses and the allure of sport hunting persisted. Animals are central in cultural history, Donald concludes, and compelling questions about them—then and now—remain unanswered.



Diana Donald was formerly head of the Department of History of Art and Design at Manchester Metropolitan University. She is author of the prize-winning book, The Age of Caricature: Satirical Prints in the Age of George III, published by Yale University Press.

?Diana Donald has written a challenging and densely argued book ? She is an evangelist of her subject and of the animal kingdom to which she wishes to give a voice ? Picturing Animals in Britain is a pioneering and polemical book." - Burlington

"Deeply researched and cogently argued, this book forces a reevaluation of an area of British art that has often been considered superficial or marginal. The 277 illustrations, mostly in color, are first-rate. Overall, this is a significant contribution to the scholarly literature. . . . Highly recommended."—Choice

"A vast, rich, incredibly contradictory range of images, and I am grateful to Donald for amassing them in such a lovely book. I will treasure this book always."—Martin A. Danahay, Journal of British Studies