An Animal Instinct - Milagros Canelon


This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.

This gallery consists of different kinds of animals and what their artistic representations meant to the cultures they came from. The different pieces of art in this gallery will highlight the spiritual or cultural importance of said animals with the varying use of color and textures. 

Ritual Disc (Bi), 771 B.C.E. - 256 B.C.E., From the collection of: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
This carved jade disc is said to have emerged from imperial tombs from the Zhou dynasty. This type of disc was believed to worship heaven. Undoubtedly there's a significant amount of detail in this piece; it is very likely that an artwork like this was admired greatly for its attractive aesthetic. Its golden color gives it a very regal appearance and the amount of detail draws the viewer in with ease. One is lead to believe that the dragons in this piece are so meticulously crafted due to the importance in early Chinese culture. Dragons served different purposes ranging from guarding the dwellings of gods to manipulating waterways. The attention paid to detail is a representation of this artworks cultural importance. Reference Early Chinese Art:Shang Dynasty and (Zhou). Encyclopedia Britannica (1994-2001). Retrieved February 20, 2016, from
Fragment of the Shinkokinshū Poetry Anthology: Deer, Tawaraya Sōtatsu, 17c, From the collection of: Yamatane Museum of Art
This artwork is a scroll with 28 poems from the royal anthology called Shin Kokin Wakashû. Following World War II, this scroll has been split in various ways and is currently exhibited in different places. One is first drawn to the subject at the center of the piece, a lightly painted deer. Not only is the deer in clear sight, it stands with a plain background and it's distinctive tint helps it stand out from the pale backdrop. Texture is also key in this piece because, in contrast to the stained backdrop, the deer's tint is uninterrupted and has a smooth appearance. This correlates with the fact that many of the poems written on this scroll serve to give readers/viewers a soothing experience. Along with appearance, deer have always symbolzed peace and happiness in traditional Asian cultures. (Referenced from the Google Art project page)
The Unicorn in Captivity (from the Unicorn Tapestries), Unknown, 1495-1505, From the collection of: The Cloisters Museum and Gardens
This threaded piece of art is centered around a captured unicorn. This piece originated during the Middle Ages, when the topic of hunting a "magical unicorn" was a hot topic. The unicorn is tightly enclosed by a circular fence surrounded by plants. According to the excerpt on Google Art Project, many of the plants crowding the animal were believed to symbolize fertility during these time. This artwork if replete with texture that should be remarkable to see in person. It really does seem as if one were included in the actual scene. There is also plenty use of color in this scene; the unknown artist made sure to give all the plants unique and vibrant colors to go along with their symbolization of fertility. The darker shades of the plants help the bright colors of the fence and the unicorn really pop, emphasizing the importance of the unicorn to the artist. (Referenced from the Google Art project page)
Bronze Statuette of a Cat, 7th and 6th centuries B.C., From the collection of: Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest
The title of this artwork is pretty self-explanatory; the subject is the sole part of this piece - a bronze statue of a black cat. Cats symbolized the ferocious and kinder sides of Egyptian gods. The ferocity is seen through the lioness and the cat goddess, Bastet, represents the sutler side. Felines undoubtedly had a divine role for Egyptians. This statue is an example of what color can contribute to a work of art. Its black, solid color shows a certain intensity yet simplicity. It's as if it doesn't need any accessories or colors to demonstrate its power. The sleek and smooth surface just shows the care that was put into sculpting this spiritual piece. (Referenced from the Google Art project page)
Elephant-shaped bronze zun ( wine vessel ), Shang Dynasty ( ca.1600-ca.1050 B.C.), From the collection of: Hunan Provincial Museum
This elephant-shaped vessel is made entirely with bronze during the Shang dynasty. At first glance this piece has several different designs and texture. All over the elephant, one can see the shapes of animals like a tiger and a phoenix. The tiger represent the force of the army while the phoenix represented the just rule of the emperor. Elephants were used for purpose of peace, war and religion. The most obvious feature is the texture showing a tiger on the very top of the elephant's trunk. The texture on this elephant shows the incredible skill of the artist. The fact that there was no extra color painted on the elephant gives it an appearance of sturdiness and power, symbolistic of the roles of the different animals portrayed. Bishop, C. W. Journal of the American Oriental Society (Vol. 41). American Oriental Society. Dragons; Qilin and Phoenix in China. Retrieved February 20, 2016, from Four Divine Creatures in Ancient China. (n.d.). Retrieved February 20, 2016, from
Zoomorphic Globular Vessel, Culture Chorrera, 950 B.C. - 350 B.C., From the collection of: Museo Casa del Alabado
This vessel comes from the Ecuadorian North Coast and is shaped as a frog. It's mouth is wide open, leaving no doubt that it is an ideal source for water storage. As mentioned in the excerpt by Museo Casa del Alabado, croaking frogs plead for rain - a symbol for fertility. It seems to have a rough texture that shows its long-lasting consistency. The limited use of color forces more importance on the actual purpose and meaning behind the vessel: the start of life. (Referenced to the Google Art Project)
Painted Pottery Fish, Unknown, ca. 1390-1336 B.C.E., From the collection of: Brooklyn Museum
Created ca. 1390-1336 B.C.E, this pottery fish represents the Nile perch. After laying her eggs, the female perch maintains the eggs in her mouth until they hatch. To the Egyptians this symbolized resurrection and rebirth. Within this hollow piece there are several clay pellets which represent the perch's eggs. It is believed that the work of art served as a rattle to soothe children. Fish. Retrieved February 20, 2016, from
Self-portrait with Tiger and Lion, Francesco Hayez, 1831, From the collection of: Museo Poldi Pezzoli
This piece of art dates to Early 1830. It is a self portrait of Hayez. What is peculiar about it is that instead of being the subject, Hayez is off to the side, looking directly at the viewer. Instead the majority of the painting is made of a huge cage with a tiger and a lion. The colors of the felines is much more intense than that of the artist, showing their superiority. (Reference to Google Art Project)
Figure of an Elephant, Unknown, 1736–1795, From the collection of: The J. Paul Getty Museum
This cartoon-like figure of an elephant sitting in an upright position, was imported from Asia in the 1700s and collected by Europeans. At this time, most of these European collectors had probably never seen an Elephant in real life. It would be reasonable to believe this elephant was a symbol of wonder and/or mystery. It is made of hard-paste porcelain and is rather large. It seems to be smooth to the touch yet bumpy. The elephant is light gray with flowers painted on it's ears and a brown collar. These light colors seem to exude hope and the anticipation of something new. (Referenced to Google Art Project)
Proceeding Lion, detail from the Processional Way of Babylon, Unknown, 6th century BCE, From the collection of: Pergamonmuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
The brick-covered wall features a lion that seems to be roaring while making its way. The street called Processional Way was towered by the walls that were backgrounds during celebrations for the Babylonian New Year. Gods were lavishly paraded around the walls. The lion on the wall is the representation of the eminence of a god. The strength of these walls is evident through its rugged texture and the brilliance of the lion is exhibited through bright colors against a dark backdrop. The lion was meant to stand out, that's for sure. (Referenced to the Google Art Project)
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This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.
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