Bestiary is a wonderfully visual, thematic exploration of animals – real, surreal and imaginary – as depicted on beautiful ritual objects and works of art. Famous artworks mix with little-seen artefacts from every age and around the globe, offering a fresh perspective and new comparisons to stimulate the mind.
Art historian Christopher Masters is a clear and informative guide, illuminating familiar masterpieces and bringing lesser-known treasures into the light. Arranged thematically into five chapters, his book depicts animals in intelligent pairings and groupings of images that encourage the reader to find and learn the cultural context and connections between the origins of many different civilizations. An ancient Egyptian bronze divine cat sits next to a 19th-century print of English domestic feline bliss; a miniature Ice Age mammoth faces an ancient engraved drawing of a horse; the royal lion hunt is played across the walls of Ashurbanipal’s palace in Assyrian Nineveh; a Minoan acrobat leaps onto the back of a 3,500-year-old bull; while a Roman marble gives vivid life to the Persian legend of Mithras and the Bull.