Jean-Baptiste Oudry: rhinoceros

1749, oil on canvas, length: 456 cm

Jean-Baptiste Oudry had been personally known to Duke Christian Ludwig and heir to the throne Frederick when he offered to sell them the “menagerie” with images of the exotic animals of the French king. At the end he added a rhinoceros portrait as “last year a rhinoceros came to Paris.” The animal, named “damsel Clara” by its Dutch owner who charged people to see it, travelled throughout Europe from Leiden to Berlin, Breslau and Vienna to Naples and London. It did not come to Schwerin itself but instead in the form of a life-size painting around 1750.

Perhaps the Duke had not imagined that it would be so large as one year later a faithful copy was hanging in his gallery – much smaller than the original. Yet the original was brought to the hunting lodge in Ludwigslust, where it was later rolled up and stored. It was still too big for later show rooms of the Grand Duke’s art collection and was not displayed again until 2004 after it had been extensively restored. Clara has been the mascot of the museum ever since.


Text: G. S.

The exhibit refers to:

Mecklenburg until 1945

Look here for the original exhibit:

Staatliches Museum Schwerin

Staatliches Museum Schwerin

Alter Garten 3
19055 Schwerin