Paintings / Drawings

Selected works may include depictions of: the “human-animal bond,” animals grieving for humans and/or other animals, humans grieving for a beloved animal, themes of connecting to nature, and/or themes of burials. Gallery curated by Eric Greene.

Note: All artwork may not depict literal themes of death or bereavement, but have been selected for their poignancy, symbolism or mood. Paintings and drawings are presented chronologically.

Death of the Historical Buddha

Unidentified artist, Death of the Historical Buddha (Nehan), Kamakura period (1185–1333), 14th century. Kyoto, Japan. Hanging scroll; ink, gold and color on silk. 200.7 x 188.6 cm. Rogers Fund.

Unidentified artist, Death of the Historical Buddha (Nehan), Kamakura period (1185–1333), 14th century. Kyoto, Japan. Hanging scroll; ink, gold and color on silk. 200.7 x 188.6 cm. Rogers Fund.

Death of the Historical Bddha. For more information, read here.

Gerrit Dou, Sleeping Dog Beside a Terracotta Jug

Gerrit Dou, Sleeping Dog Beside a Terracotta Jug, a Basket, a Pair of Clogs and a Pile of Kindling Wood. 1650. Oil on canvas.

Gerrit Dou, Sleeping Dog Beside a Terracotta Jug, a Basket, a Pair of Clogs and a Pile of Kindling Wood. 1650. Oil on canvas.

Edwin Henry Landseer, The Old Sheperd’s Chief Mourner

The Old Sheperd's Chief Mourner by Edwin Landseer

Edwin Henry Landseer, The Old Sheperd’s Chief Mourner. 1837. Oil on canvas.Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK.

Historian Keri Cronin writes: “this painting became an important part of animal advocacy campaigns in the 19th century…in March 1881, it was reproduced on the pages of Our Dumb Animals, the publication of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA), and declared to be “eminently appropriate” for this publication.” Read more at Our Hen House.

William Holman Hunt, The Scapegoat

William Holman Hunt, The Scapegoat. 1854-6. oil on canvas. 86 x 140 cm. Lady Lever Art Gallery, UK.

William Holman Hunt, The Scapegoat. 1854-6. oil on canvas. 86 x 140 cm. Lady Lever Art Gallery, UK.

The Scapegoat was one of the best known, and somewhat controversial, religious paintings of the 19th century. It references an observance among ancient Hebrews as described in Leviticus, as inscribed on the painting’s frame: ‘And the Goat shall bear upon him all their Iniquities unto a Land not inhabited.’ Read more here.

James Archer, A Dog Mourning Its Little Master

James Archer, A Dog Mourning Its Little Master.

James Archer, A Dog Mourning Its Little Master. 1866. Oil on canvas. 26 x 41.3 cm. City of Edinburgh Council, UK.

August Friedrich Schenk, Anguish

August Friedrich Schenk, Anguish. 1876-1880

August Friedrich Schenk, Anguish. 1876-1880. Oil on canvas. National Gallery of Victoria.

Briton Riviere, Sympathy

Briton Riviere, Sympathy. 1877. oil on canvas. Royal Holloway Collection.

Briton Riviere, Sympathy. 1877. oil on canvas. Royal Holloway Collection.

Riviere’s Sympathy was among the most well-known animal portraits of the day, as discussed by the Royal Holloway Collection: The Spectator made an important point: Riviere was the natural successor to Landseer, who had died in 1873, and that he had even surpassed Landseer in his own way, ‘for he has given feeling to his animals, and yet kept them strictly within their own nature . . . Never attempting to render in his works human expression in a dog’s face, he has nevertheless mastered the points where canine and human nature touch, and painted them with an insight and comprehension with which no other artist of whom we know can at all compare’. Read more

LissiS, Ghost Dog. 2008. published in Worth1000.com

LissiS, Ghost Dog. 2008. published in Worth1000.com

The painting has had a resurgence since 2007 when an artist rendered the dog as a ghost.

Anna Merritt, Portrait de Minna Sophia Farrer tenant un lapin

Anna Merritt,_lapin

Anna Merritt, Portrait de Minna Sophia Farrer tenant un lapin. 1878. Oil on panel. Private collection.

Briton Rivière, Requiescat

Briton Rivière, Requiescat. 1888.

Briton Rivière, Requiescat. 1888. Oil on canvas. Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Arthur Heyer, White Cat and Two Brimstone Butterflies

Arthur Heyer, White Cat and Two Brimstone Butterflies.

Arthur Heyer, White Cat and Two Brimstone Butterflies. (1872-1931). Oil on canvas. Private Collection.

Vincent van Gogh, Tree Roots

Vincent van Gogh, Tree Roots. July 1890. Oil on canvas, 50.3 cm x 100.1 cm. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation).

Vincent van Gogh, Tree Roots. July 1890. Oil on canvas, 50.3 cm x 100.1 cm. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation).

Erika Carter, Untitled

Erika Carter, Untitled. 2008. Mixed media on retablo tin,  18 in. x 24 in. Private collection.

Erika Carter, Untitled. 2008. Mixed media on retablo tin, 18 in. x 24 in. Private collection.

Matthew Inman. I have Firsthand Experience with an Undead Parrot

Matthew Inman. I have Firsthand Experience with an Undead Parrot. 2014. Image from a graphic series, published in The Oatmeal.

Matthew Inman. I have Firsthand Experience with an Undead Parrot. 2014. Image from a graphic series, published in The Oatmeal.

From the graphic series published in The Oatmeal. See part two, focusing on Grump’s burial, here.
For a moving story about the life, trauma and death of Malachi, a captured coral pink Moluccan Cockatoo, read psychologist Gay Bradshaw’s memorial here.

revised September 3, 2014

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