14 November 2015 to 28 February 2016
A new exhibition at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton will explore how animals considered exotic by the Georgians and early Victorians were depicted, kept and presented.
Exotic Creatures will look at animals owned by the Royal Family and in menageries and early zoos, as well as the ‘political beasts’ of the period (c.1740-1850). A painting of liger cubs (a cross between a tiger and a lion) born at Windsor in 1824, and presented to Royal Pavilion creator George IV shortly after, will be displayed to the public for the first time.
Another rarely-seen painting will tell the story of the UK’s first living giraffe, given to George IV as a diplomatic gift by the Pasha of Egypt in 1826.
The Nubian Giraffe, Jacques-Laurent Agasse (1767-1849) Oct 1827
The Royal Collection Trust
© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015
Prince Regent’s Gallery, Royal Pavilion Estate, Brighton BN1 1EE, UK
14 November 2015 to 28 February 2016
Opening hours: Open daily: April-Sept 9.30am-5.45pm (last admission 5pm), Oct-March 10am-5.15pm (last admission 4.30pm). Closed 24 Dec (from 2.30pm), 25 & 26 Dec
Tickets: *10% online discount*
Tel: +44 (0)3000 29090
Tel: +44 (0)3000 290900
Further information about the exhibition:
Other works on show will include satirical prints, original menagerie bills, sculptural and ceramic pieces and paintings and archival material. The exhibition will take a hands-on, playful approach suitable for all the family, and a children’s Royal Pavilion Creature Trail will be available to buy at the admission desk.
The exhibition will be organised around four main themes:
George IV, considered exotic and unpredictable by many, kept a significant collection of exotic animals in his private menagerie at Windsor Great Park. The exhibition will tell the stories of individual exotic animals and explain the transition to public menageries, and the opening of London Zoo in 1828.
Public and travelling menageries and early zoos,
Many of the exhibits will have a strong connection with Brighton, whose residents enjoyed regular visits from travelling menageries and animal performances in the Royal Pavilion grounds.
George’s mother Queen Charlotte kept a zebra in the 1760s and ordered a rhino for her children’s amusement, while George IV gave ostriches as presents to mistresses and kept kangaroos at Windsor Great Park. He also received the first living giraffe on British soil as a diplomatic gift.
The young female arrived in August 1827 after a long and strenuous journey from Africa, by which time neither she nor George were in a good state of health. Cartoonists mercilessly poked fun at both but the exhibition’s portrait by Swiss artist Jacques-Laurent Agasse is more sympathetic.
Animals were a popular device for mocking politicians and royals in Georgian satire and caricatures, as depicted in Brighton Museum and the Royal Pavilion’s extensive collections (many of which are hand-coloured).
The exhibition will demonstrate how the arrival of exotic animals influenced fashion and the decorative arts in Britain, with giraffe-patterned wallpaper, teapots and fabrics becoming hugely popular in the late 1820s. It will also address the challenges of creating anatomically correct images of non-native animals in the Georgian era, and the period’s simultaneous passions for scientific research and the use (and abuse) of animals in entertainment.
As well as caricatures and striking Staffordshire figures from Brighton Museum & Art Gallery’s own collection, curator Alexandra Loske has sourced significant loans from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Museum, Royal Collection Trust and private collections.