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Oudry—Animal Portraitist

It has been fascinating to see how people respond to the animal "portraits" in Oudry's Painted Menagerie. I deliberately emphasize that the animal paintings in this show are portraits, because they are, in my mind, renderings by a formally trained people-painter of specific animal individuals...

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Forum: Do You Agree with Peter Singer?

Ethicist and animal rights advocate Peter Singer lectured last night at the Getty Center to a packed house. A summary of his thoughts is below; video of the lecture is posted here. Do you agree or disagree with Singer? Add your comment to weigh in...

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Making Oudry's Lion Whole Again

When I stand back and look at the completed restoration of a painting that I worked on, I feel a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Our work as conservators should be invisible and appear effortless, so in the end it's hard to believe that you put in all those hours to get to that final point. That describes how I feel when I look at Jean-Baptiste Oudry's Lion...

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Connecting to Ourselves Through Animals

I am continually amazed at the diversity of perspectives that people bring to the Los Angeles Zoo, where I work. On some occasions I overhear parents and teachers patiently explaining basics of evolution and natural selection to children, and on others I hear adults emphasizing the wonder of God's creations...

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A Mere Animal Painter? Assessing Jean-Baptiste Oudry

Jean-Baptiste Oudry was an intimate of royals, a star in the Paris art world, and famed throughout early 18th-century Europe as the greatest painter of animals and the hunt. On May 6, Colin Bailey, chief curator of The Frick Collection and author of the introductory essay in the exhibition catalogue, evoked Oudry's life and extraordinary career...

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Between Chalk and Paint: Oudry's Leopard and Leopardess

Oudry made so many different kinds of drawings that it is often hard to tell what relationship they have to his paintings. Did he make a particular drawing to prepare a painting, or did he make it after the painting was completed so that he would have a record of it...

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It Started with a Picture: How I Discovered Clara

In the "Rhino-mania" section of the exhibition Oudry's Painted Menagerie, there is one engraving that means a great deal to me: it is the bizarre image of a human skeleton, standing upright, apparently outdoors, and behind the skeleton there is a rhinoceros grazing contentedly on the grass. I first met Clara through this picture and, as with all good relationships, I can remember every detail of that meeting. It was 1998...

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On the Wonders—and Dangers—of Exotic Beasts

I can still feel myself blushing at the memory of the unpropitious start to my inquiries into the realm of medieval beasts, the focus of the current manuscripts exhibition Medieval Beasts. I had begun my research with the bestiary, a medieval collection of texts describing animals both real and fanciful...

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Rhino Orthotics: Scenes from the Conservation Studios

On Friday the 13th of April, I finished the workday with cheeks sore from smiling so much. We had just uncrated one of the star loans to the Getty Center exhibition Oudry's Painted Menagerie. As layers of foam pads were cautiously removed from the interior of the crate, a "mummified" figure was revealed...

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A Regal Palette: Designing the Gallery Space for Oudry's Painted Menagerie

When designing the exhibition space for Oudry's Painted Menagerie, curators gave us very specific ideas about what they wanted to achieve. Namely, to replicate the interior of the galleries of the Staatliches Museum in Schwerin, Germany...

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Art and Science in Oudry's Animal Portraits

I keep going back to animals. They're a subject with great potential. Our interactions with them include fear, awe, respect, reverence, food (which can go both ways), transportation, companionship, pest, guide, and subject. Often, I'm just thrilled by their beauty and want to capture that quality...

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