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Animal Drawings

Humans have relied on animals for time immemorial as sources of companionship, clothing, and food. This affinity appears reflected in visual culture throughout the ages, from crude renderings on the walls of caves to modern day works by artists such as Deborah Butterfield and Hunt Slonem. Prior to the advent of photography, painting and illustration were among the few ways artists could document the natural world and artistically express the relationship between humans and animals.

The tradition of creating detailed animal drawings for taxonomic purposes originated in Europe, then quickly spread with the expansion of colonialism. As European culture spread to the Americas, South Asia, and beyond, so did the enterprise of naturalist drawing. While these highly intricate drawings were intended largely for scientific purposes at the time of their creation, they were also valued aesthetically and are now sought-after works of art.


Quick Facts

  • John James Audubon is arguably the most famous zoological draftsman in history. One of Audubon’s “Birds of America” folios containing prints of his drawings sold at a Christie’s auction in 2012 for $7.9 million
  • In the early 19th century, Prussian explorer and naturalist Alexander Von Humboldt traveled to South America. While there, he produced a prodigious amount of drawings observing the natural life that he discovered throughout his travels
  • Contemporary illustrator Walton Ford continues the naturalist tradition, drawing fantastical portraits of animals in a style very much inspired by Audubon

Recommended Items at Auction

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JEAN-FRANCOIS MILLET DOUBLE SIDED PASTORAL STUDY OIL & CHARCOAL ON PAPER
Nov 07, 9:00 AM MST
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AMANDA TESTER SNYDER INK WASH ON PAPER
Oct 25, 6:00 PM PDT
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Norval Morrisseau, Canadian (1932-2007), Untitled-Birds, pencil, 12 x 16 1/8 in. (30.5 x 41 cm)
Oct 27, 9:00 AM PDT
Norval Morrisseau, Canadian (1932-2007), Untitled-Birds, pencil, 12 x 16 1/8 in. (30.5 x 41 cm)
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Est: $400- $600
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Lucien Levy-Dhurmer "Horses" Pastel on Paper
Oct 24, 12:00 PM EDT
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by Showplace
Est: $1,500- $2,500
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§ Scottie Wilson (British 1890-1972) Birds & Flowers, 1958
Oct 29, 10:00 AM BST
§ Scottie Wilson (British 1890-1972) Birds & Flowers, 1958
by Lyon & Turnbull
Est: £800- £1,200
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Nov 06, 12:00 PM EDT
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by Palm Beach Modern Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1501 Bid
NANCY COFFELT TWO PASTELS ON PAPER
Oct 25, 6:00 PM PDT
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Norval Morrisseau, Canadian (1932-2007), Untitled - Bird, pencil on paper, 16 x 12 in. (41 x 30.5 cm)
Oct 27, 9:00 AM PDT
Norval Morrisseau, Canadian (1932-2007), Untitled - Bird, pencil on paper, 16 x 12 in. (41 x 30.5 cm)
by Maynards Fine Art & Antiques
Est: $400- $600
$2801 Bid
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Howard Cook, Untitled (Burro)
Nov 05, 3:00 PM MDT
Howard Cook, Untitled (Burro)
by Santa Fe Art Auction
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$5001 Bid
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E. I. Couse, Untitled (Countryside)
Nov 05, 3:00 PM MDT
E. I. Couse, Untitled (Countryside)
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Property from an Important Private Collection A drawing of a parrot, 20th
Oct 26, 10:30 AM BST
Property from an Important Private Collection A drawing of a parrot, 20th
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Est: £80- £120
£500 Bids
Erna Schillig - Altdorf 1900–1993 Altdorf - «Fische, Schwäne und Möwen»
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CEST
Erna Schillig - Altdorf 1900–1993 Altdorf - «Fische, Schwäne und Möwen»
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Est: CHF1,000- CHF1,200
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Fabre Jan - Ik wil een brein (I want a brain) (2001)
Oct 23, 1:00 PM CEST
Fabre Jan - Ik wil een brein (I want a brain) (2001)
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Est: €3,200- €4,000
€2,8000 Bids
Fabre Jan - Handicap (2001)
Oct 23, 1:00 PM CEST
Fabre Jan - Handicap (2001)
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Est: €3,200- €4,000
€2,8000 Bids
Fabre Jan - Karma (2001)
Oct 23, 1:00 PM CEST
Fabre Jan - Karma (2001)
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Est: €3,200- €4,000
€2,8000 Bids
Ensor James - Study sheet with vase and fighting animals
Oct 23, 1:00 PM CEST
Ensor James - Study sheet with vase and fighting animals
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Est: €8,500- €10,000
€7,5000 Bids
Ensor James - Study sheet with dogs and a drawing hand
Oct 23, 1:00 PM CEST
Ensor James - Study sheet with dogs and a drawing hand
by De Vuyst
Est: €7,500- €9,000
€6,5000 Bids
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Glen Loates "Ring-Necked Pheasant" Original Drawing
Oct 23, 11:30 AM EDT
Glen Loates "Ring-Necked Pheasant" Original Drawing
by Oakwood Auctions
Est: $400- $475
$3000 Bids
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Giovanni Boldini [attribuito a], Buoi.
Oct 27, 10:00 AM CEST
Giovanni Boldini [attribuito a], Buoi.
by Gonnelli Casa d'Aste
Est: €180- €360
€1800 Bids
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Marcello Dudovich, Canguro. Prima metà del XX secolo.
Oct 27, 10:00 AM CEST
Marcello Dudovich, Canguro. Prima metà del XX secolo.
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Est: €140- €280
€1400 Bids
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Giovanni Fattori, Cavallino in un paesaggio. Seconda metà del XIX secolo.
Oct 27, 10:00 AM CEST
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Est: €500- €1,000
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Oct 28, 12:00 PM EDT
Odmandakh: Monggol-un Sayiqan Oron, c.1970s Ink on paper
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Sellers Who Sell Animal Drawings


Robinhood Auctions

Robinhood Auctions

Campo & Campo

Campo & Campo

Dobiaschofsky Auktionen AG

Dobiaschofsky Auktionen AG

Accademia Fine Art

Accademia Fine Art