Animals in Art - Animal Symbolism

Animals in Art - Animal Symbolism


Animals have appeared in art throughout history. Ancient cave paintings illustrate various animals including dinosaurs and deer. Some ancient Egyptian symbols include animals as well as ancient pottery. This page includes information on how animals have influenced art and humans throughout history.


The Bestiary

(Christian and other religions)


A Bestiary is a collection of short descriptions about all sorts of animals, real and imaginary, birds and even rocks, accompanied by a moralizing explanation. Additional Christian symbols of interest.


Aberdeen Bestiary - The recorded history of the manuscript begins in 1542 when it was listed as No.518 Liber de Bestiarum Natura in the inventory of the Old Royal Library, at Westminster Palace.


Animals in Medieval Art - Metropolitan Museum of Art Timeline


doveBook: An Egyptian Bestiary. - A professor of Egyptology at the University of Geneva has created An Egyptian Bestiary, highlighting, in 280 lavish color illustrations, the Egyptian perception of animals as representations of divine creativity, from the secular and mundane world of craftsmen to the sacred realm of priests, pharaohs and gods.


Book: Meditations with Animals: A Native American Bestiary. - This first bestiary ever compiled from the Native American tradition brings forth sacred animal spirits and reminds us of our deep connection to our surroundings.


Animal Symbolism

Animal Symbolism - Various Cultures. List complied from Internet Sources. Contains many duplicates.

Animal Symbolism Chart Very ice compilation of sources online.

Celtic Animals in Celtic and Welsh mythology are tied in with fertility and vitality, because they are living, moving, and growing. Each animal is associated with a different characteristic

Ancient Egypt - Symbology must be studied in order to understand the culture -- for each nation had its own peculiar methods of expression. See Animals and the Gods of Ancient Egypt for a list of the god and goddesses and their animal spirits. Chart gives the hieroglyphics for the animals and a brief description. Also see Egyptian Animals from Cleveland Museum of Art.


Book: Dictionary of Symbolic And Mythological Animals - This dictionary offers an enlightening account of the role that animals real and fantastical have played in shaping the myths, religion and customs of the world, from primordial times to present day.


Animals in Culture

Chinese – Zodiac animal symbols Commercial tour site - has brief summary of each characteristic. 12 Zodiac animal signs | Taoism and the Arts of China | EDSITEment Lesson Plan: Animals of Chinese Zodiac


Book: Animal Symbolism of the Chinese Zodiac. - The signs of the Chinese zodiac are designated by well-known animals rather than constellations, and the twelve animals reflect various characteristics of human behavior.


Animals in Art of India From Objects from India: Site created by Sir Robert Hitcham's Primary School, College Road, Framlingham, Suffolk, United Kingdom. (This is the archive)


Digital Art of Daniel Lee - Watch the digital animation how animal transforms into man. See Manimals.

Pre-Columbian Art: Animals played an important role in the art of ancient Columbia. Animals could be represented realistically or in fantastic guise, in whole or in part, and with or without human characteristics. Works representing animals are called "zoomorphic". Explanation of animals spirits in many cultures from book written by Sir James Frazer. (Pre-Columbian link was broken - a suitable replacement will be found)


Animals in African Art University of Virginia - student web page.


Native American Folk Lore Links to several stories of Native American Indian Lore from several Tribes across Turtle Island (North America).


Native American Animal Totems. Site by Lady Hawke.


Northwest Symbols - selected animal symbolism.


Native American Animal Totem - Horoscope- This is a commercial site - this section may be of interest as it lists various animals by month.


Plains Indians symbolism Learn the importance of animal symbols in the Plains Indians' Sun Dance.


Honoring the Animal Spirits (Archive) - In the Native American tradition, man communicated with the Creator through interaction with nature; the birds, the forest, the animals.... Many chose or were given symbolic "power animals" whose strength or character reflected the human character traits of the individuals claiming the "power" of that specific animal. That "tradition" carries on today in our society. Individual Stories included.

More animals


Native American - additional animal totems.


Native American – Totem Poles ThinkQuest site created by students. In Native American Culture, each animal represents a different quality or way of life. This site a partial list of those animals and that qualities that they represent.


Book: The Holy Cow and Other Animals: A Selection of Indian Paintings from the Art Institute of Chicago. - This book provides an account of the fascinating interaction among the realms of the animals, mortals, and immortals as represented in 38 paintings created on the Indian sub-continent between about 1400 and 1900.


Book: Painting the Native World: Life, Land, and Animals. - Featuring more than fifty works from the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, Santa Fe, this book showcases the graceful, innovative work from this exceptional period in Native American art.


Print Resources

Rowland, Beryl. Animals with human faces: A guide to animal symbolism.. [Knoxville] University of Tennessee Press [1973].


Werness, Hope B. (Out of print) - The Continuum Encyclopedia of Animal Symbolism in World Art / Hope B. Werness; line drawings by Joanne H. Benedict and Hope B. Werness ; additional drawings by Tiffany Ramsay-Lozano and Scott Thomas. New York.


Animals in Art. - Engaging images of animals painted by master artists give this collection of excellent reproductions from London's National Gallery its universal appeal.


Animals in African Art: From the Familiar to the Marvelous. - This book illustrates and discusses animals throughout African history.


Artists who Paint Animals

James Audubon Specializing in birds National Gallery of Art

Walton Ford - Contemporary - Audubon style watercolors with social comment. Some works. See artnet

Norm Magnusson - Contemporary New York artist - see Animal Allegories

Franz Marc - German Expressionist Painter

LeRoy Neiman

Henri Rousseau

Robert Bateman - Contemporary Canadian wildlife artist Virtual gallery from Art and Nature

Daniel Smith - Montana wildlife artist. Site features African animals, American mammals, exotic animals and American birds.

George Stubbs (English Romantic 1724-1806)

Artcyclopedia: Artists Specializing in Animals


Animals in Art- Lesson Plans

Lesson plans:

Lesson plan: Animal symbols in Egyptian art (Archive) - Metropolitan Museum of Art. Egyptians believed that the gods in their multiple forms revealed the creative and destructive forces of the universe. Download their book for free, Animals All Around. pdf

Animals in Art - Museum Lesson Plan for National Gallery of Art.

Chinese Zodiac - EDSITEment lesson

Clay Whistle – Ocarina (Archive) - Online lesson.

Middle School Unit Plan: Our Relationship with Animals - created by Dr. Craig Roland's art education students at University of Florida. Includes suggested projects.

Monumental Animal Sculpture (Archive) - from Kennedy ArtsEdge


Curriculum Materials:

Amazing Animals in Art (Archive) - Minneapolis Institute of Art . Images from the collection.

Animals in Art pdf PDF from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

Animals in African Art (Archive) - Also see their Teacher's guide (Archive) - Learn about animals symbolism, purpose and more.

Artcyclopedia: Spotlight on Animals in Art

Animals in Art I and II - CD-ROM available from Crizmac Art and Cultural Education Materials

Middle School Unit Plan: Our Relationship with Animals - created by Dr. Craig Roland's art education students at University of Florida. It is a work in progress. Students in his class used Wiki Spaces to collaborate on the unit. They designed this after studying "Backwards Design" model made popular by Wiggins & McTighe. Use the side navigation to view resources, suggested artists and more.

Wild Things - Animals Role in Art From Amarillo Museum of Art. Examples of animals alone, animals with other animals and animals with people. See suggested activities with each section.


Online Activities: Animals in Art

Egyptomania (Archive) - learn all about Egyptian animals. Cleveland Museum of Art

Discover Art - Creatures at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (Archive) - Learn about various works in the collections and about the people who made them. Create your own creature.

Art Safari Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art- Explore the theme of animals in art through the work in the Museum of Modern Art. Take a "journey"β€”and adventure in looking at art.

National Museum of Wildlife Art (Archive) in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Check out these fun online activities using the collection. Museum home page.

Switch Zoo Switch the animals' heads, legs, and tails to make new creatures at this surrealistic virtual zoo. Thousands of combinations are possible! New animals monthly.




Add to or Comment on this Page:

More To Explore