Rabbits by Richard Ansdell, RA (1815–1885). Undated. Oil on canvas. 29.6 x 37.2 cm. Torre Abbey Historic House and Gardens, Torquay. Accession no. A82. Bequeathed by Mr. G. H. Earle, 1936.

The rabbit and her young are feeding on leaves in the grass, dappled by sunlight. But the mother is alert. Ansdell often painted much less cosy scenes, of animals being attacked or attacking. But it is hard to believe that he himself did not appreciate these creatures' beauty and innocence. He certainly brings out such qualities skilfully here. He was much appreciated for his abilities. For example, commenting on the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1854, which featured a much grimmer painting by him entitled Traveller Attacked by Wolves, the reviewer in the Illustrated London News said, "as for the outsiders — the men without the pale of the Academy — Ansdell, Phillip, and others — how much have they done, and ably done, to rival some of the best within the pale!" It would take several more years for Ansdell to be brought "within the pale": he was elected an ARA in 1861, and then, after another long wait, an RA in 1870.

Image download, text and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee, with thanks to Torre Abbey House for allowing the image to be used via ArtUK on the CC BY-NC-SA (Creative Commons-NonCommercial-ShareAlike) licence. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]


Egerton, Judy. "Ansdell, Richard (1815–1885), animal painter." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Web. 30 August 2018.

The Royal Academy Exhibition." Illustrated London News. 6 May Supplement. Vol. 24 (January-June 1854): 421-426. Hathi Trust. Contributed by the University of Michigan. Web. 30 August 2018.

Created 30 August 2018