Audubon-esque portrayals of animals have been a mainstay of the art world since the 1700s. Vintage animal prints for all phyla and classes of the animal kingdom are available as collectible originals from the most respected botanical, ornithological, and naturalist artists of their times.
Animal art includes faithful, detailed depictions of mammals, reptiles, fish, birds, and insects in their natural habitats, printed from woodcuts, etchings, steel and copper engravings, and lithographic stone. Original antique prints from engravings or lithographs were often enhanced with hand-color inks and served as plates for pioneering natural-history encyclopedias in the 1700s and 1800s - the first time that the public was able to view some of the world's most exotic animals.
Some of the most highly prized of these prints come from William Lizars' hand-colored engravings of the animal, bird, and insect illustrations of Scottish ornithologist Sir William Jardine, for his 30+ volumes of the pioneering Naturalist's Library, published from 1833 to 1843. Even earlier antique lithographic animal art prints are available from the plates for botanist George Shaw's 24-volume The Naturalists' Miscellany, from 1789 to 1813. Vintage lithographs for plates and collections from noted botanists, ornithologists, or illustrators later on, including Kuhnert, Kronheim, Cuthell, and Edwards, are highly collectible as well.
Other collectible animal prints for sale include contemporary digital versions, including those from more stylized drawings of animals by the celebrated artist Will Barnet. You can find contemporary prints of more domesticated animals, including cats, dogs, horses, and family farm livestock. For a look back in time, select collectible antique prints of animal art etchings from Jan van den Hecke's Set of Animals (1656) or woodcuts from Cristoforo Coriolano, dating from the late 1500s.
Most of the vintage and contemporary animal prints are already mounted, so they're ready to frame. For the most valuable prints, look for the artist's or engraver's signature.