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Wild Animal Art: The est Form of Art

Buzzle Staff
Having been discovered in the form of cave paintings and carvings since the prehistoric era, wild animal art is not something new to us. Let's explore the ancient as well as modern forms of this art.
Wild animals have had a great influence on the lifestyle and culture of human beings. Although a threat, their beauty has always been intriguing. For some, it is their color and texture, whereas for others it is their innate personalities.
Some do it for sheer pleasure, while others do it to conserve and protect them. Whatever may be the reason, wild animals have always appealed and dazzled the humans since prehistoric times.
What started as cave paintings has now taken the form of tattoos and body painting. Having originated back then, wild animal art has developed significantly over time.

Let us find out how.

Animal Painting

Painting wild animals is the oldest art form.
The animal cave paintings found in Europe date back to 32,000 years, oldest being the Chauvet cave in France. This cave depicts at least 10 to 15 different species including some rarely found ones. These paintings mainly feature wild animals like lions, hyenas, bears, panthers, wolves, bison, etc., and depict the structure and lifestyle of these animals.
Ancient animal painting style can be seen in Christian, Gothic, Romanesque and Byzantine art which was done using red ochre and black pigment while the more recent methods include canvas painting, oil painting, and contemporary, modern and figurative painting.
Among the most renowned wild animal painters today are Alan Hunt, Gary Hodges, John Mould and David Shepherd while Peter Hildick is famous for his pencil and charcoal artwork.

Wall Art

Animal wall art began with the invention of murals and frescoes in the 16th century, mostly found in the cathedrals of Greece and Rome. These ancient murals depict the hunting methods and structure of wild animals. The best example of wall art would be 'The Animal Wall' in the Castle Quarter of the city center of Cardiff, Wales.
This Grade I listed structure was designed by William Burges in 1866 and depicts 15 different animal species including wolf, seal, lion, bear and hyena. Today, many animal lovers get their walls painted with the pictures of various wild animals.
Generally, kids' rooms are painted with baby wild animals. Not only that, many people also show their love for animals in the form of decor like wall sculptures or wall hangings. Glass etching and door carvings with wild animal designs are also a popular item.


Wild animals have always been carved to enhance the beauty of monuments and holy places.
The ivory carvings from the Vogelherd cave in the Swabian Jura in southwest Germany have been reported to be 32,000 years old. Greece also has been famous for its ancient animal sculpture which was mainly done using marble and limestone. Wild animals have had a great influence on various cultures.
Since the Hindu God of Wisdom, Ganesha also had the head of an elephant, they are mostly depicted in the carvings of most temples in India.
In the Chinese culture, it was always believed that lions protected humans from evil spirits and are hence seen at the entrance of almost every door entrance in Beijing as well as other parts of China.
'Sphinx' which is one of the most famous monuments had the head and shoulders of a human and body of a lioness. The animal carvings of Oaxaca are also a brilliant example of cultural depiction of animals.
More popular as 'alebrijes', these are found in museums and art galleries all over the world. They generally feature animals like dragons, deer, reptiles and birds.

Metal Art

Animals have been carved on stone, metal or on jewelry. Metal art is classified into Permian and Germanic animal style.
▶ Permian Art
Perm animal art is a beautiful form of decoration which was found near the Ural mountains in Russia made by the Komi and Udmurt people. In this art form, wild animals are carved out of various copper alloys and dates back to the 5th century.
Permian bronze casts have been found at the excavations of cemeteries and caves. Most of them have designs of three-headed eagles or birds with a face on their chest. Some of them are horse and lion motifs.
Another form of perm animal art is Scythian art. This art form includes decorative objects made by the nomadic tribe in Scythia. It dates back to the 3rd century BC and was greatly influenced by Greek art.
It has been made using materials like bone, bronze, electrum, gold and silver. It contains representation of animals like panther, deer, lions and bears and even fictional animals like winged lions and reindeer. Similar art has been produced by the Pazyryk culture in Siberia.
▶ Germanic Art
The Germanic art can be broadly classified into three phases: Style I, Style II and Style III.

» Style I: This art form was used in Northern Europe in the ancient and medieval periods. It applied chip carving techniques to bronze and silver materials. Elephants, horses, deer and lions were the main subjects of Style I art.
» Style II: This included beast animals whose bodies were elongated into ribbons and further intertwined into various symmetrical shapes. Although the heads are of animals in these designs, there are hardly any legs. The designs mostly depict confronted lions and elephants.
» Style III: This is generally found in Scandinavia and is popularly known as the 'Viking art'. It mostly contains animals in three-dimensional, twisted forms. This is the art, which later formed the foundation of various other art forms like Celtic Art, Insular Art and Anglo-Saxon Art.
Today, wild animal art is mostly practiced for their conservation and protection; face and hand painting being the most recent entries. Getting wild animals tattooed on the body is also gaining momentum these days. So, when it comes to showing off your love towards animals, you have a plethora of options.