The dramatic improvements in animal husbandry and selective breeding that took place from the 1750s onwards led to a demand for animal portraiture, as prosperous farmers commissioned artists to record their prize animals for posterity. Before the introduction of books devoted to the various breeds, it was a means of advertising the quality and ancestry of a farmer’s stock. Though artists were often required to paint exaggerated portraits, there was a fashion for exhibiting animals which had been fattened to an extraordinary size.
Prize Ram About 1870 © Compton Verney
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