By The Hammock
Did James Tissot paint animals because they appealed to Victorian sensibilities, because they were part of the life around him that he recorded so faithfully, or because they enhanced his subjects with symbolic meaning?
Numerous artists of Tissot’s time achieved great success as animaliers – animal painters – including Sir Edwin Henry Landseer RA (1802 – 1873), Rosa Bonheur (1822 – 1899), Briton Rivière RA (1840 – 1920), and Charles Burton Barber (1845–1894). Landseer, also a notable sculptor who created the lions at Trafalgar Square, was popular with the aristocracy as well as the middle class, whose homes often featured reproductions of his works, which often sentimentalized dogs. Bonheur, a French artist popular in England, was known for her realistic depiction of animals, especially cattle. Rivière focused on animal subjects from the mid-1860s, and he grew famous as his animal paintings exhibited at the Royal Academy often were engraved. Barber, famous for his sentimental paintings of children and their pets, especially dogs, received commissions from Queen Victoria to paint her grandchildren and dogs.