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Image of 'Exhibition of a Rhinoceros at Venice' by Pietro Longhi, probably 1751.

'Exhibition of a Rhinoceros at Venice' by Pietro Longhi, probably 1751

This painting records a historical event – the public exhibition in 1751 of a rhinoceros that had been brought to Europe ten years previously.

The scene takes place at a carnival in Venice, where the rhinoceros would have been one of many attractions. This was one of the few rhinoceroses that had been seen in Europe since 1515.

Longhi depicts the event with unaffected simplicity as the showman displays the animal to a group of spectators in carnival costume, holding in one hand the horn of the animal and a whip.

© The National Gallery, London

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