Jean Baptiste Oudry at the Getty
The immediate artistic ancestor to George Stubbs, Oudry took conventional animal painting and elevated it to the level of portraiture. These pieces were part of a series commissioned to document the exotic animals of French King Louis XV, who kept these creatures at Versailles and occasionally toured them around capitol cities. The Rhino above is Clara, and she was something of a celebrity in eighteenth-century Europe, where the rise of Empiricism and an interest in natural history created a thirst for knowledge of the animal world. Oudry created the most accurate representations of the rhino to date - an animal that had until then been depicted in Western prints and paintings as something closer to a dragon or dinosaur than the creature we know today. He also was a master at capturing the sense of aggrandizement and nobility that was a significant reason to own - and have portraits made of - exotic and pure bred animals.