The coat of quills immediately draws the viewer's attention; Oudry has produced its painterly effect by means of irregular marks that resemble an explosion. […] The draughtsman has shown the animal in the moment of danger: with the wide-open eye, claws planted on the ground, and quills fully erect. However, this excitement is not captured within the animal's body, the breathing organism. Despite the rounded and dark drawing of the fur, the body does not achieve a tangible volume. The contour at the back of the neck and the left, hind paw also remain anatomically unclear. It is therefore unlikely that the work was drawn from life. Opperman […] postulates that Oudry worked from an oil study by Pieter Boel […], which was created as a model for the Gobelin Manufactory in Paris. Oudry became director of the manufactory in Beauvais in 1734, and, by this point, if not sooner, he knew the designs created by Boels, several of which he copied.
Nonetheless, the image’s striking realization displays the distinguishing characteristics of Oudry’s depictions of animals. Through extravagant movements, the elegantly silhouetted bodily contours, and realistic details in the depiction of their flesh and fur, Oudry imbues his animals with a decorative effect – but only at the expense of a realistic representation. The refinement displayed in his depictions of the hunt and animals made him one of the most esteemed and important animal painters of his time. His compositions were in great demand at the court of Louis XV and among the French nobility.


  • Title: Porcupine
  • Creator: Jean-Baptiste Oudry
  • Date: 1730 - 1740
  • Physical Dimensions: w26.9 x h22.1 cm
  • Type: Paper
  • Medium: Black and white crayon on blue paper
  • Inv.-No.: KdZ 1812
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018511
  • External Link: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyright: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Volker Schneider │ Text © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Margret Kampmeyer-Käding
  • Collection: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Artist Place of Death: Beauvais, France
  • Artist Place of Birth: Paris, France
  • Artist Gender: Male
  • Artist Dates: 1686.03.17 - 1755.04.03

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