Galleries - June 2015

JUNE 2015 GALLERIES 51 Historically, the promotion of animal works did not matchtheir popularity. In the tradition of the European academies, animal painting falls far down the hierarchy of genres. Allegories and history paintings, featuring the human form head the list, while paintings of animals came in at the bottom only just above still life. Yet images of prized racehorses, loyal dogs and ferocious lions enjoyed a steady popularity, and often drew the attention of capable artists. In the Menagerie exhibition one painting by the Irish painter Charles Collins shows chickens pecking at kernels and looking affronted at the appearance of a peacock; a dog lets its head rest wearily between its front paws as it curls up in the golden grass in a painting by Baldassare de In 2013, in response to an appeal by the National Maritime Museum, the British public raised £1.5M to ensure that two paintings by the 18th C. artist George Stubbs remained in the UK. Enthusiasm for the Stubbs appeal was due partly to his status as a great Britishartist, but also in part to the strangeness and charm of his subjects: a dingo and a kangaroo. Similar sitters star at Rafael Valls’ The Painter’s Menagerie , 8 June to 17 July. Coinciding with London Art Week (3 to 10 July), and the Tomasso Brothers Fine Art gallery’s The Sculptor’s Menagerie, the Valls’ exhibition features the works of old masters who, like Stubbs, portrayed animals bothforeign and domestic, familiar and exotic as stand-alone subjects. Caro; and in John Alfred Wheeler’s Study of a Running Fox, the creature propels itself forward, tongue out and muscles straining, withpalpable terror. These subjects are interesting or intriguing or amusing because they were not copied mechanically, but examined and represented as individuals of changeable appearance and attitude. Today, the popularity of animals as subjects endures, and can be celebrated at Rafael Valls this month. CODA | Masters of Menagerie Frances Allitt Jacques Barraband (Aubusson 1768-1809 Lyon) ‘Two Cocks Fighting over a Hen’ at Rafael Valls