Griffier is best known for his landscapes and topographical prospects of English towns, views of the Rhine and scenes of classical ruins.

The subject matter of this painting is unusual, both for the artist and for an English gentleman's home where animal paintings were usually of sporting scenes or decorative and domesticated fowl. However a distinctive characteristic of British art in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was a profound interest in natural history and this painting is one of the most spectacular of the genre. Griffier may have sketched some of the featured animals in private menageries or aviaries. From the varied and masterful range of brushwork, it is clear that Griffier relished the chance to explore the textural possibilities that fur and feathers inspired. Although as a subject, Noah's Ark provided an opportunity to depict exotic creatures, Griffier places the elephants, bears and unicorns at a distance, ascending the ramp, with the more familiar animals dominating.


Perhaps commissioned by Sir John Trevelyan Bart (1670-1755) and thereafter always at the Great Hall at Nettlecombe Court, Somerset.

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