And thus it was that I came home yesterday with this book.
This extravangantly gorgeous and interesting book covers only a century of British art, 1750-1850, but obviously there were massive changes in philosophical and religious thought about the nature of humanity and its separateness (or otherwise) from the animal world during that time and they were reflected in the work of visual artists. The title of Part 2 (of four) is '"The psychology of beasthood": from anthropocentrism to anthropomorphism'. Chapter 5 is titled '"Captive from mountain and forest": zoos and the imperial project'. That's the kind of book it is.
Here's a glimpse of Donald's style and approach:
Gainsborough's tender portrayal of his own two dogs, Tristram and Fox, brings them close to the eye, and the paw of one dog hangs over a stone ledge into 'our' space, in the manner of a Rembrandt portrait. In this intimate encounter, the sensory delights of soft ears, bright eyes and plumes of fur remind us of the dogs' purely physical nature and appeal. Yet the artist responds equally to the differing moods of the two animals: the sense of inner life and thought, and, with it, of transience and pathos. Installed over the mantelpiece of his London house, the painting was the memorial of an inevitably transient relationship, at the same time as it signalled Gainsborough's own sensibility and absence of pretension.