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Animal Sculptures

Animal forms are the oldest forms of figural representation, alongside the human body, appearing in sculpture from the prehistoric period onward. Over time, different artists in differing artistic traditions have chosen to represent animals for a multitude of reasons. Some would seek to accurately capture the natural world, or to focus on realism, while others would abstract the forms, to achieve a more expressive or impressionistic effect.

Animal sculpture can have a wide variety of symbolic meanings. In ancient Greece, certain animal statues were often created to be offerings to the gods. In ancient Egypt, cat and dog statues were placed in tombs to allow the deceased to continue his lifestyle into the afterlife, and in pre-modern China, Lion statues were meant to be guardians at the entrance to homes and palaces. Equestrian horse statues have a long history of immortalizing military leaders.

In more modern times, animal sculpture has sometimes been considered a more basic pursuit in comparison to other subjects. The French academy considered only still life painting to be lower on their hierarchy of genres. Nevertheless, in the 18th and 19th centuries, a whole class of artist was devoted to the representation of animals, and achieved considerable renown and success.


Quick Facts

  • Contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s “Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads” recently sold for over $5.4 million at auction. Jeff Koon’s recent sale of the hyper-stylized “Balloon Dog (orange)” sold for $58.4 million, in 2013
  • The art market for ancient animal sculpture is similarly strong. The Mesopotamian “Guennol Lioness,” estimated to be at least 5,000 years old, was sold in 2010 for $57.2 million
  • A popular myth of equestrian statue contends that if a rider’s horse is rearing, that person died in battle. While this is true in some cases, not all figures follow this rule

Recommended Items at Auction

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UNKNOWN ARTIST - Three Birds
Mar 24, 1:00 PM CST
UNKNOWN ARTIST - Three Birds
by Saskatchewan Network for Art Collecting
Est: $60- $90
$12014 Bids
Metal Flamingo Statue
Mar 05, 12:00 PM EST
Metal Flamingo Statue
by Aether Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$2910 Bids
Sterling Silver Bat Ami Oversized Horse Figurine
Mar 06, 11:00 AM EST
Sterling Silver Bat Ami Oversized Horse Figurine
by Bodnar's Auction Sales
Est: $300- $500
$19010 Bids
Isidore Bonheur 1827-1901 Bull Bear Bronze Statue
Mar 13, 12:00 PM EDT
Isidore Bonheur 1827-1901 Bull Bear Bronze Statue
by MiddleManBrokers
Est: $1- $1,000
$1109 Bids
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Vintage Cloisonné Horse Statues 5”
Mar 07, 6:00 PM EST
Vintage Cloisonné Horse Statues 5”
by Aether Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$229 Bids
Carved Walrus ivory under dome by Levi Tetpon, height 5 x width 7.5cm (dome height 14cm)
Mar 10, 7:00 PM AEDT
Carved Walrus ivory under dome by Levi Tetpon, height 5 x width 7.5cm (dome height 14cm)
by Lawsons
Est: AUD400- AUD600
AUD2208 Bids
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Vintage Colorful Cloisonné Horse Figurine
Mar 07, 6:00 PM EST
Vintage Colorful Cloisonné Horse Figurine
by Aether Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$268 Bids
Abraham Palatnik Lucite Op Art Fish Sculpture
Mar 13, 12:00 PM EDT
Abraham Palatnik Lucite Op Art Fish Sculpture
by MiddleManBrokers
Est: $1- $1,000
$457 Bids
Salvador Dali Genuine Bronze Elephant Sculpture, Signed Salvador Dali
Mar 15, 6:00 PM EDT
Salvador Dali Genuine Bronze Elephant Sculpture, Signed Salvador Dali
by Auction by Daum
Est: $350- $450
$5507 Bids
Pair of Silvered Fighting Cocks / Roosters Ornamentals
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
Pair of Silvered Fighting Cocks / Roosters Ornamentals
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $100- $250
$757 Bids
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Vintage Colorful Cloisonné Horse Figurine
Mar 07, 6:00 PM EST
Vintage Colorful Cloisonné Horse Figurine
by Aether Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$337 Bids
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Stone Carved Turtle Statue 5" X 11" X 8"
Mar 07, 6:00 PM EST
Stone Carved Turtle Statue 5" X 11" X 8"
by Aether Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$127 Bids
Carved wooden Water Bird figure on stand by Betty Cutcher 122cm
Mar 07, 10:00 AM AEDT
Carved wooden Water Bird figure on stand by Betty Cutcher 122cm
by Lawsons
Est: AUD30- AUD50
AUD1107 Bids
ARCHELUS MORIN - Birds on Branches
Mar 24, 1:00 PM CST
ARCHELUS MORIN - Birds on Branches
by Saskatchewan Network for Art Collecting
Est: $150- $200
$1106 Bids
Phillippe Sirois carved and painted trout plaque - State of Maine
Mar 17, 6:00 PM EDT
Phillippe Sirois carved and painted trout plaque - State of Maine
by Caswell Prewitt Realty, INC
Est: $0- $0
$4756 Bids
Frank Meisler Moveable Two-Tone Metal Hippo Sculpt
Mar 09, 11:00 AM EST
Frank Meisler Moveable Two-Tone Metal Hippo Sculpt
by Joshua Kodner
Est: $300- $500
$3256 Bids
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BOJESEN, KAY, large monkey, 20th century design,
Mar 22, 2:00 PM CET
BOJESEN, KAY, large monkey, 20th century design,
by Auktionshaus Eppli
Est: €100- €150
€1805 Bids
Large life size cast metal Cheetah, 82 x 176cm
Mar 10, 7:00 PM AEDT
Large life size cast metal Cheetah, 82 x 176cm
by Lawsons
Est: AUD2,000- AUD3,000
AUD1,1005 Bids
A painted timber owl on post (H:36cm)
Mar 07, 1:00 PM AEDT
A painted timber owl on post (H:36cm)
by Lawsons
Est: AUD60- AUD80
AUD1205 Bids
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Friendly Forest Animal Handpainted Gourds
Mar 07, 6:00 PM EST
Friendly Forest Animal Handpainted Gourds
by Aether Auctions
Est: $0- $0
$225 Bids
Antique Bronze Horse Sculpture on Alabaster Base
Mar 09, 10:00 AM EST
Antique Bronze Horse Sculpture on Alabaster Base
by Premier Auction Galleries
Est: $100- $200
$555 Bids
A bronze figure of a jaguar on marble base (L:18cm) - losses
Mar 07, 1:00 PM AEDT
A bronze figure of a jaguar on marble base (L:18cm) - losses
by Lawsons
Est: AUD80- AUD120
AUD1005 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Animal Sculptures


Weatherham Estate Treasures

Weatherham Estate Treasures

Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen Düsseldorf

Hargesheimer Kunstauktionen Düsseldorf

Simrit Collection

Simrit Collection

Akiba Galleries

Akiba Galleries