Be Inspired - Love Birds


Birds have long featured in art, appearing in the earliest known man-made art in the Lascaux Caves, and have been used as symbols for just as long. Birds have been particularly important to religion and mythology, used by Ancient Egyptians to try to explain the creation and purpose of humans in the world. This religious importance also translated to Renaissance and Gothic art, where birds were used as Christian symbols, from representing the soul in flight to heaven, to referencing the Resurrection, to being used as symbols for Jesus himself.

The sixteenth century saw a boost in popularity of documenting and depicting a wide variety of birds for encyclopaedic purposes, having used taxidermized or captive birds as references. The explosion of trade, exploration, and colonialism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries led to an abundance of exotic birds, which had been captured from around the world and transported to private aviaries in Europe, featuring in art. Eventually, around the nineteenth century, nature studies became popular artists were encouraged to draw from life, not captivity, and birds in motion began to rise in popularity.

Whether used as symbols of human-animal connection, hopes, spiritual and religious beliefs, wealth and power, or extinction, this collection, from birds of prey to perching birds, wading birds to fowl, shows the very best of birds in art. From black and white etchings to vibrant explosions of colour, from modern and dramatic photography to traditional Chinese bird-and-flower to iconic textiles, this collection documents the popular styles throughout time. Featuring flocks of feathered friends or solo creatures soaring through the skies, this collection has plenty of pretty plumage.

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