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Exotic Creatures of a Georgian era

27th January 2016

A special temporary exhibition from the Royal Pavilion in Brighton gives us a reflective insight into how animals, thought to be exotic, were depicted, kept and presented by the Georgians. Journey through paintings, ceramics and prints featuring the animals owned by the Royal Family and in menageries between 1740 - 1850. The painting below of liger cubs (cross between Tiger and Lion) born at Winsor in 1824 is being displayed to the public for the first time.

Three 'liger' cubs, bred between a lion and a tigress at Windsor Great Park in October 1824. Attributed to Richard Barrett Davis (1782-1854). Oil on canvas, c.1824-1830, collection Stephen Pavey

Left: L'Hippopotame, from Comte de Buffon's Histoire Naturelle, 1764, Etching, Collection Alexandra Loske. Right: The Nubian Giraffe, Jacques-Laurent Agasse, 1827. Courtesy ROYAL COLLECTION TRUST. Copyright Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015 

“An insight into how animals, thought to be exotic, were depicted, kept and presented by the Georgians”

Discover the story of the first giraffe to live in the UK, gifted to George IV by the Pasha of Egypt in 1826. George IV was considered exotic and unpredictable by many, giving ostriches as presents to mistresses and keeping kangaroos and other exotic animals in his private menagerie in Windsor Park.

Quadrupeds illustration from a late 18th century encyclopaedia. Private collection. 

"George IV was considered exotic and unpredictable by many, giving ostriches as presents to mistresses"

Royal Zoological Gardens, Brighton, Thomas Allom (1804-1872) after Matthew Wyatt (1777-1862) Aquatint, 1840, The Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton.

The giraffes in the Zoological Gardens, Regents Park - Lithograph by George Scharf, published 1836, private collection

 

The display looks at how these exotic animals influenced the fashion and decorative arts in Georgian Britain, when giraffe-patterned wallpaper was in vogue (isn't it always?!). The collection shows the challenges artists faced when depicting these newly-arrived creatures in their artworks but also a darker insight into the lives of these animals. This was a time when scientific research and animal entertainment was new and exciting. Luckily the later Georgian period saw a change in attitudes as to how and why animals were kept, which led to the formation of the Zoology Society of London and the establishment of what is now London Zoo. A pleasant reminder of how far we've come when it comes to animal welfare.

Exotic Creatures

14 November 2015 - 6 March 2016

Tickets: £11.50

Open: 10am - 5:15pm daily

Prince Regent Gallery

Royal Pavilion,

Brighton, BN1 1EE

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