Animals & Other Beasts

Exhibition image

ANIMALS & OTHER BEASTS focuses on the way that medieval societies perceived the natural world around them. The exhibition spans over five-hundred years and includes sculpture, stained glass, manuscripts and metalwork. It is divided into three sections – domestic animals, wild animals and fantasy animals. Included are an ox and a donkey, which are two of the earliest known crib figures from Central Italy; an English Folding Almanac with a large illumination of the Zodiac Man whose body is composed of beasts that symbolise the Zodiac; and a Romanesque throne support from Southern Italy, which features two stylobate lions carrying an ornate base on their backs. 

In our catalogue, we also include passages from medieval sources which describe animals – often in amusing ways. These descriptions reveal that people in the Middle Ages understood animals and their behaviour to symbolise human characteristics, moral lessons and otherworldly truths. In illustrating this constant relationship between men and beasts, the exhibition also encourages people to think about our relationship with animals today – especially as their natural habitat is quickly disappearing.

A part of the exhibition proceeds will be supporting the World Wildlife Fund and we will be featuring information on the work that they do to preserve biodiversity throughout the show. 

26 May - 8 July 2022

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Sam Fogg
Art of the Middle Ages