Brighton Life

Exotic Creatures

14 November 2015 to 28 February 2016

A new exhibition at the Royal Pavilion will explore how animals considered exotic by the Georgians and early Victorians were depicted, kept and presented. Exotic Creatures looks at animals owned by the Royal Family and in menageries and early zoos, as well as the ‘political beasts’ of the period (c.1740-1850).

3 liger cubs 1824 attr to Richard Barrett Private collection

3 liger cubs 1824 
attr to Richard Barrett
Private collection

A painting of liger cubs (a cross between a tiger and a lion) born at Windsor in 1824, and presented to Royal Pavilion creator George IV shortly after, will be displayed to the public for the first time.

Another rarely-seen painting by Jacques-Laurent Agasse tells the story of the UK’s first living giraffe, given to George IV as a diplomatic gift by the Pasha of Egypt in 1826. It died two years later.

The Nubian Giraffe<br/> Jacques-Laurent Agasse, 1827

The Nubian Giraffe  1827
Jacques-Laurent Agasse
Royal Collection Trust /
© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015

Other works on show include satirical prints, original menagerie bills, sculptural and ceramic pieces and paintings and archival material. The exhibition takes a hands-on, playful approach suitable for all the family.

The exhibition is organised around four main themes: Royal Menageries (George IV kept a significant collection of exotic animals in his private menagerie at Windsor Great Park); Public and Travelling Menageries and Early Zoos (many of the exhibits have a strong connection with Brighton, whose residents enjoyed regular visits from travelling menageries and animal performances in the Royal Pavilion grounds); Royal Beasts (George’s mother, Queen Charlotte, kept a zebra in the 1760s); and Political Beasts (animals were a popular device for mocking politicians and royals in Georgian satire and caricatures).

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