Wonderful Life: A Celebration of Animals in European Art (Part 2)

Statue of Pegasus on Milan Stazione Centrale Train Station

Continued from Part 1


Symbolic and Decorative Animals

The more I looked, the more I saw. Countless times I saw it in Christian religious art, where the four Gospel writers—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—are typically depicted, respectively, as a divine man, a winged lion, a winged ox, and an eagle. Clustered on the roof of the Croatian National State Archives building in Zagreb I noticed a parliament of Croatian owls, symbols of wisdom. And in Florence I met Il Porcellino (“the Piglet”), Baroque master Pietro Tacca’s popular boar fountain, sculpted in 1634 and situated now in the city’s Mercato Nuovo. Visitors traditionally put a coin into the boar’s jaws for good luck and then rub its snout to ensure a return to Florence. As a result, the snout always has a polished sheen, while the rest of its body remains a patinated brownish-green. (Of course, I rubbed its snout like there was no tomorrow!) Continue reading “Wonderful Life: A Celebration of Animals in European Art (Part 2)”

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Wonderful Life: A Celebration of Animals in European Art (Part 1)

Pigeon resting in cornice, Milan

Guest Blog by Frank Weaver


‘I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d,
I stand and look at them long and long.’

— Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself, 32” (from Leaves of Grass)


As we enter this season of “Peace on Earth, good will toward men,” it is worthwhile to be reminded that in this deeply conflicted world, while there may be many things that divide people—borders, currency, language, religion, politics—there are many more things that unite us in harmony. One of those unifying principles is our common relationship with animals: not merely as food or pets or helpmates, but in the simple awe and affection they have always inspired in the human psyche. It is a sentiment that stretches not only across great geographical distances but across the vast chasm of time itself.

The Little Hunt
A well-preserved mosaic excavated at the 4th-century Villa Romana del Casale in Sicily, Italy, showing hunters with their dogs capturing a variety of game. (Source)
Continue reading “Wonderful Life: A Celebration of Animals in European Art (Part 1)”

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Oscars for Animals

Cat on movie screen

The paparazzi have gone home, the red carpet has been rolled up, and the tuxes and gorgeous gowns have been stowed away till next year. Now that last Sunday’s Academy Awards extravaganza is over, we turn our attention to the films that really matter—the ones about the domesticated animals we share our lives with!

(Note: Countless wonderful films featuring animals have been made over the years. The following nominees and winners were selected in an entirely subjective manner involving no voting or independent tabulation whatsoever.)

Continue reading “Oscars for Animals”
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The Importance of Pet Rabies Tags

Medieval woodblock print - rabid dog
Woodcut from the Middle Ages depicting peasants fending off a rabid dog [source]
The primary responsibility of any pet owner is to make sure their animal stays happy; and the best way to do that is to keep it safe and healthy. For that reason, a pet ID tag for your dog or cat (attached to the collar, along with microchipping for added protection) ensures a speedy return home if it gets lost. In addition, a rabies tag indicates that your pet has been vaccinated against a frighteningly deadly—yet easily preventable—disease.
Continue reading “The Importance of Pet Rabies Tags”

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Literary Dogs

Argos
Argos and Odysseus

Among the very first dogs known by name in Western literature is Argos, who appears near the end of Homer’s Odyssey. In that great Greek epic of ancient times, he is depicted as the very epitome of faithfulness: waiting patiently for 20 years for Odysseus to return home from the Trojan War, he immediately recognizes his old master at first sight. Only then is the sick and feeble dog able to pass away in peace. Thousands of years later, we in the modern world can still recognize and appreciate this common bond between human and animal.

That is just one of the many reasons dogs are called “man’s (and woman’s) best friend”! Since the time of Homer, many more books have been written and stories told about the canines we love who love us back, entertain us, provide for us, work and play with us, protect us, inspire us, teach us the virtues of kindness and wisdom, and keep us company when we are lonely. Here are five of our favorites. Continue reading “Literary Dogs”

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