The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate,
MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
Before the 17th century, animals in Western art appeared usually as
secondary objects, a means of enhancing the principal theme of the work: horses,
for example, would be necessary in a battle scene, a miniature cow might be
needed to balance a landscape; a puppy could highlight the appeal of a child,
a rearing steed lent an emperor his power. Seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish
painters, on the other hand, turned to the mundane and the familiar; just
as they made flowers, food, barrooms, and bedrooms their principal subjects,
so also they did the same for animals. Paulus Potter's monumental cows, for
example, are familiar images (JAMA cover, July 19, 2000). The 18th century
saw the focus of animal painting move to France, where the genre was dominated
by two painters: Desportes during the first half of the century, and Jean-Baptiste
Oudry (1686-1755) during the second half (JAMA cover, December 15, 1999).
English painters, notably Edwin Landseer and George Stubbs, owned the 19th
century, while the entire 20th century was expressed by a single work: the
explosive Guernica, into which Picasso was able to
compress all the horrors and violence of its wars.
Southgate MT. Swan Attacked by a Dog. JAMA. 2003;290(5):571. doi:10.1001/jama.290.5.571