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The best drawings of animals by famous artists

Updated on May 12, 2015

Amazing drawings made by famous artists

Although animals play a huge role in our daily life, it is surprisingly how underestimated the animal is in the art. It is not often that you will find an animal themed exhibition of drawings or paintings. Mostly galleries organized exhibitions around themes more closely related to isms..

But if you look closely, you will find that there is a mountain of animal drawings. Many a famous artist drew there own pet. And painters like Rembrandt and Durer even went to the zoo to find the more exotic animals like elephants and rhinos.

Animals have always been good companionship for many city dweller and country man. Cats keeping the mouse away, dogs helping the blind, canaries helping the miners. Many animals shared there lives with us. And saved us many a time, no wonder that they were painted as well.

Famous are the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, everybody knows the man in the circle and square, the Vitruvian Man. But not everybody knows his sketches for horses and cats.

Here on this page I will give you some wonderful drawings of animals made by famous artists. From the tiny mouse up to the majestic Elephant.

Leonardo Da Vinci : A drawing of a dog - Dachshunds - How to draw a dog - Look at da Vinci

The best way to learn something is to study the masters. Leonard da vinci studied nature like a scientist. He made drawings of cats, dogs and horses.
The best way to learn something is to study the masters. Leonard da vinci studied nature like a scientist. He made drawings of cats, dogs and horses.

famous animal drawing by Albrecht Durer (Rhino) - The rhino on the brink of extinction.

Albrecht Durer Rhinoceros woodcut, 1515
Albrecht Durer Rhinoceros woodcut, 1515

Drawing of a Rhino by a famous artist : Albrecht Durer.

The Rhino, an impressive animal, almost prehistoric in it's appaerance, it almost looks like a calssic dragon picture with the leather skin.Albrecht Durer drew the animal in 1515, big and untouchable. Like a modern tank.

I have a soft spot for this drawing. It shows the giant rhino in all it's strength with it's pantzer, but it's so fragile, certainly now.

Maybe in ten years all that is left of the famous rhino are the drawings by Albrecht Durer made 500 years ago. Now the original one is on the brink of extinction.

The Elephant by Rembrandt - a famous drawing by Rembrandt

elephant Rembrandt
elephant Rembrandt

An famous drawing of an elephant

Imagine, it's 1640 and you are living in Amsterdam. A cold damp place with canals and narrow streets. It's the capital of Holland and like many other capitals at the time, like Berlin and London, it build a zoo. To show all the exotic animals that where taken to Amsterdam from the travels to Indonesia up to South America. It's different then, for us, we've been brought up with picture books, full of animals like giraffes, elephants and the Z for Zebra. But not 300 years ago. in the 16th century an elephant must have been special and exotic. A grand beast with big tusks, ears and a trunk!!!

The Lion by Rembrandt - 1650 - Animal drawings - a picture of a lion by Rembrandt

Lion - Rembrandt
Lion - Rembrandt

Rembrandt a master painter who loved to draw animals

Rembrandt van Rijn must have been impressed by the new and exotic animals of the zoo "Artis" in Amsterdam. Although there where lions in southern Europe during the Roman Empire. In the 17th century, they where definitely not running in the wild.

Rembrandt was an amazing painter who had the gift of drawing sketches very quickly but with precision and character. His pen and ink drawings are amazing. They are vivid and full off emotion . He was one of the most famous artists during his lifetime and after his death as well. This in contrast of Vincent van Gogh, who became a famous painter only after his death.

Rembrandt made several sketches of animals, and went regulaly to the zoo in Amsterdam which was in the same neighborhood as his studio.

The best drawings of Rembrandt

Rembrandt Drawings
Rembrandt Drawings

“You would have to go a long way to find a better guide than Mr. Slive—to understanding Rembrandt and his art.”—The Wall Street Journal.

 

Leonardo da Vinci - Cats and Dragons - famous animal drawings by Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci - Cats and Dragons
Leonardo Da Vinci - Cats and Dragons

The famous cats drawings by Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci loved to sketch cats and other felines. Around 1470 he worked on a series of different drawings relating to the theme of Maria and the Christ Child, holding a cat. The sketches are studies for a painting and is based upon a legend about a cat being born at the same time as the baby Jesus.

Other drawings with animals are based on the legend of Leda and the Swan. Leonardo made countless sketches of a swan but he actually never finished the painting. The drawings of Leda and the Swan are beautiful though.

Leda and the Swan - Leonardo da Vinci

Leda and the Swan - Leonardo da Vinci
Leda and the Swan - Leonardo da Vinci

The cat of Paul Klee - Drawing the cat

The Mountain of the Sacred Cat by Paul Kle
The Mountain of the Sacred Cat by Paul Kle

The lovely painted cat by Paul Klee

The cat fromPaul Klee is a funny cat, look she has one eye closed and she's dressed all in red. The painting is like a story. Dou you see the man with the big hat and the cape. Walking up the strange steps. And on the other side of the painting is a women she is dressed in red as well.

Mmm. what will happen if the man and the woman meet. Do they know each other, are they a couple ? The cat knows, cats always seem to know what's going on and have the latest gossip. Look at the smirk on the face of the cat. O yes, she's a streetcat although she looks quit sophisticated.

Albrecht Durer - Two Squirrels, One Eating A Hazelnut Giclee

Albrecht Durer - Squirel print
Albrecht Durer - Squirel print

The dogs of David Hockney - a drawing of two dogs

two dogs, by David Hockney
two dogs, by David Hockney

A drawing of a dog by David Hockney


David Hockney is a creative artist, who explored many subjects. from landscape paintings to swimming pools to dogs and 17th century paintings.

His book "Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters " is amazing and tells you how painters like Ingres, Rembrandt, Holbein and and many more possibly used Optical devices like lenses,mirrors and the camera obscura to create there stunning realism.

But that said, his ordinary drawings from his pets are incredibly touching. They are projecting such a feeling of innocent and fragility. He drew them, with craftsmanship but above all with love.

dog by picasso
dog by picasso

Pablo Picasso and the Dog

A famous drawing of the dog Lump.

The story of the picture to the right tells us that when photo journalist David Duncan visited Picasso for a lunch. Picasso asked him if the dog, Lump, had his own plate. Duncan surprised by the question said no. As a response Picasso took a nearby brush and paint and started to paint the plate with an image of Lump. It was the same plate Picasso had eaten his lunch from. Lucky dog.

A goat drawing by Picasso.

A goat drawing by Picasso.
A goat drawing by Picasso.

Dog By Kiki Smith

Dog By Kiki Smith
Dog By Kiki Smith

The cave drawings of Lascaux are estimated to be 17,300 years old

The cave drawings of Lascaux are estimated to be 17,300 years old
The cave drawings of Lascaux are estimated to be 17,300 years old

Fat cats get fatter - a lovely cat drawing by Ronald Searle

a fat cat by ronald searle
a fat cat by ronald searle
horse drawing by leonardo da vinci
horse drawing by leonardo da vinci

Leonardo da vinci and animals

his horse drawings

Besides drawings of cats, lions and dragons, Leonardo made a lot of horse drawings as well. Especially during the time he had an assignment to make a sculpture of a horse.

A sculpture that was commissioned by the duke of Milan around 1482 and had to be the largest horse sculpture ever made.

Although Leonardo made a lot of drawings for the horse sculpture and even made a clay model, the sculpture would never see the day of light. And even the clay model of the horse was destroyed by the French when the invaded Milan in 1499.

The horse drawings luckily survived and they where used 500 years later to make a replica of the sculpture. There is one sculpture in the sculpture park in Grand Rapids,Michigan and one at the Piazza della Libertà in Vinci, in Leonardo da Vinci's hometown

Mice by Jacques de Gheyn

Mice by Jacques de Gheyn
Mice by Jacques de Gheyn

Islamic art, animal drawings - Arabic calligraphy images

Burung drawing
Burung drawing

a famous picture of a Lion - Tiger - An Indian Miniature painting

Indian Miniature painting
Indian Miniature painting

Indian miniature painting of a Lion

Here is an Indian miniature painting. Of a Tiger, or is it a Lion ? Either way it's a big yellow cat, whose head recalls a lion while the body seems to be that of a tiger, mmm strange...

Lions in Persian paintings of the 17th century were also at times endowed with tiger-like features. The rulers of Kota (South India) especially were great lovers of lion and tiger hunts, and at times a lion may have become confused with a tiger in the artist's imagination.

This drawing is made in the 18th centurary and measures 14.5 by 10.5 cm - a miniature for real.

Reptiles by M.C. Escher 1943 - A famous Lithograph of a Iguana

An Iguana by M.C. Escher
An Iguana by M.C. Escher

A drawing by M.C. Esher of a Iguana.

M.C. Escher became famous for his lithographs (stone prints) and drawings. His skills as a printer where exceptional. And close to Leonardo da Vinci, his work is printed all over the world. His complicated drawings with impossible perspective constructions are well known. Many book covers and cup,watches and t-shirts where a design of the Dutch artist.

M.C. Escher, made during his lifetime, 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings and more then 2000 sketches and drawings. He was left handed like many great artists as Leonardo da Vinci, Dürer, Holbein and me too....(although I'm definitely not that famous...)

Besides from being a graphic artist, Escher designed tapestries, postage stamps, illustrated books, and made some murals.

The most typical thin in the artworks of M.c. Escher is how he played with architecture, perspective and impossible spaces. Often nature plays an important theme in his work as well. The beauty of his work is that it is not only technical skill, but he has a vision as well. His works makes you wonder about the world you are living in and is in some respect a big question mark.

A drawing of an Okapi by Sir Harry Johnston - The Okapi is a close relative of the giraffe.

Drawing of an Okapi.
Drawing of an Okapi.

Explorer and colonial administrator Sir Harry Johnston painted this picture of okapi for a 1901 edition of the Proceedings of the Zoological Society in London. When the species was first described that year, it was named Okapia johnstoni after Johnston.

source : American Museum of Natural History

Cheetah animal drawing - Renaissance drawing of the Cheetah

Drawings of animals - two cheetahs
Drawings of animals - two cheetahs

A Beautiful Drawing of two Cheethas

Two Cheetahs. The drawing is made around 1400-1410 in Lombardy, Italy. The artist is unfortunately unknown. This drawing was found in a book with a collection of other animal drawings. They where used as models for paintings

Frogs - by Jacob de Gheyn II - a study for four frogs - watercolor

As it happened, I had this frog drawing by Jacob de Gheyn II laying around for years but never thought about it to share it with you. :-(
As it happened, I had this frog drawing by Jacob de Gheyn II laying around for years but never thought about it to share it with you. :-(

The composition and proportions of a horse. - How to draw a horse, take a look at the drawing of Andrea del Verrocchio

Famous Horse Drawing by Andrea del Verrocchio
Famous Horse Drawing by Andrea del Verrocchio

Famous Horse Drawing by Andrea del Verrocchio

I already showed you above a drawing of Leonardo da Vindi, he made some wonderful drawings in his time. Horses though where drawn in many different ways and if you think about modern art and horses, you immediately have to think about Franz Marc and his connection with the Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider).

The drawing above though is from Andrea del Verrocchio who was an Italian sculptor, goldsmith and painter working for the court of Lorenzo de' Medici in Florence in the early renaissance. As you can see he really had an renaissance approach, like Leonardo he wanted to understand nature on a more scientific level. Measuring the proportions of a horse. Almost as Leonardo da Vinci measured the proportions of the vitruvian men (the men drawn in a circle and a square.) -It's no surprise though that the two have some ideas in common because del Verrocchio was Leonardo's teacher.

I like the drawing, it's almost abstract. The artist did not make the drawing because he wanted to draw a beautiful drawing, no it is more like a scientific study. What makes a horse a horse, how is it constructed. How do all the body parts relate to each other. It's a special drawing, very modern in it's look and feel.

The drawing can be seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Tell me, what's your favorite animal, maybe an artist has made a drawing of it, if so maybe I'll put it on the Lens.

What's your favorite animal ?

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    • profile image

      nsixx99 5 years ago

      I am a dog lover through and through!

    • profile image

      nsixx99 5 years ago

      I am a dog lover through and through!

    • Rhidawn profile image

      Rhidawn 5 years ago

      Beautiful paintings and drawings

    • PeterStip profile image
      Author

      PeterStip 5 years ago

      @nsixx99: Thanks nsixx99. I will take a look and see if I can find a drawing from a famous artist with a dog on it.

    • wolfie10 profile image

      wolfie10 5 years ago

      nice drawings. love what people can do and create.

    • profile image

      sherioz 5 years ago

      Beautiful drawings.

    • profile image

      BeyondRoses 5 years ago

      Interesting artist info, and splendid drawings. I love all animals, but cats are my favorite. Cats are delightful!

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 5 years ago

      I'm not sure which animal is my favorite.. but I do know this, you have opened my eyes a bit to think about painting and drawing them. I have always thought in the past that in art they feel understated compared to people.. but I think I have and should have long ago changed my mind on that. Thank you. Angel blessed.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 5 years ago

      Currently I have a pet rat, who is the star of Rat Coloring Pages. All my original art :)

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      That drawing of the rhino is incredibly tactile! It's like a photo.

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 5 years ago

      I love animals so it's a hard decision, however I have been painting images of horses all my life...two of my favorite old-masters that come to mind, are Alfred de Dreux and Rosa Bonheur...I was lucky enough to have known a couple of well known equine artists that where inspirational in my life as an artist, they were Sam Savitt and Rich Rudish.

    • profile image

      RocklawnArts 5 years ago

      Tigers!

    • PeterStip profile image
      Author

      PeterStip 5 years ago

      @RocklawnArts: I know an amazing Indian court drawing about a tiger, I will put it on the lens.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      I love what Leonardo da Vinci said about cats: "The smallest feline is a masterpiece." So true. They are exquisite. Appreciated all of these drawings. Thank you!

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      I love your choice of drawings here Peter. I'll include it in my art course. That hare by Durer is magnificent and was the first thing that came to my mind when I thought about a 'good' drawing'.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Two of my favorite things -- animals and art. Nice lens.

    • Gabriel360 profile image

      Gabriel360 5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • Gabriel360 profile image

      Gabriel360 5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love aquarium fishes & Iguanas, I love the realism of the bunny in the intro.

    • PeterStip profile image
      Author

      PeterStip 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I found a great drawing of iguanas/reptiles by M.C. Escher. Maybe you've seen it before.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      okapi!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Nice selection of drawings, I love them!

    • PeterStip profile image
      Author

      PeterStip 5 years ago

      @anonymous: It took a while but I found a beautiful drawing of an Okapi in the end. Thanks student, for the inspiration.

    • profile image

      blanketstar 4 years ago

      hey I'm new to Squidoo... I just Squid liked your lens...anyway I'm in desperate need of 20 Squid likes myself to make my lens public. so please "petty" me and SquidLike my lens out of mercy lol. Thank you in advance either way...ps. great lens!

      here's the url to my lens: www.squidoo.com/the-best-wedding-videography-toronto

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      it is a Komodo dragon they are so big and i have one for a pet.

    • profile image

      Jazroockfree 4 years ago

      Great lens!Thanks for sharing and information.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      The extinct Thylacine

    • profile image

      supersiva 4 years ago

      Kudos to the artists - enjoyed the lens

    • eccles1 profile image

      eccles1 4 years ago

      I love the animal kingdom but rabbits and dogs I had both as pets.

      nice lens.

    • profile image

      AlexBPearl 4 years ago

      Lovely selection of art, Peter.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I love frogs but don't often see them in art

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i love the works of art to be honest.. but this is amazing compared to my work, i love the lions. they're my favorite animals.

    • profile image

      Aunt-Mollie 4 years ago

      I truly enjoyed this collection and found just what I was looking for.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

      My favorite animal is a cheetah. I'm glad you included the cave artwork, very good idea. I really like a lot of these, one that stood out to me was Picasso's goat. I love Picasso's artwork.

    • PeterStip profile image
      Author

      PeterStip 3 years ago

      @TanoCalvenoa: true, the fast feline is one of my fav. too. It's not often used as a model though but I found a beautiful drawing of the Cheetah made by an Italian artist from the renaissance.

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      The horse is one of my favs, along with otters.

    • PeterStip profile image
      Author

      PeterStip 3 years ago

      @anonymous: Just found a special drawing of a horse by Andrea del Verrocchio the teacher of Leonardo da Vinci.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

      @PeterStip: Excellent.

    • profile image

      Colin323 3 years ago

      Very attractive lens. I like Hockney's dogs. The originals are on display at Salts Mill, West Yorkshire, along with other original Hockney canvasses, not far from my home.

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