Agasse Jacques-Laurent The Nubian Giraffe
A giraffe leans its long, slender neck to reach the bowl held by its Arab keepers. Two Egyptian cows can be seen in the background. With the development of communication links, traders of the early nineteenth century were able to travel farther and farther afield and return with increasingly exotic gifts.
Giraffes, lions and leopards were given to wealthy landowners and Agasse, being renowned for his acute attendon to detail, was often commissioned to paint them. King George IV paid Agasse £200 for ‘a picture of the GiraiTs and Keepers’. The gentleman depicted wearing a top hat is Edward Cross, a well-known importer of foreign birds and animals for the royal menagerie. Bom in Switzerland, Agasse lived in England from 1800 where he achieved considerable success painting sporting scenes and exotic animals. He also painted a number of portraits of noblemen on horseback.