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By Musée Cognacq-Jay

"Nous ne devons nous attacher qu'à los angeles nature des animaux qui nous ressemblent le plus" écrivait Buffon, le célèbre naturaliste du XVIII ème siècle (Histoire naturelle).
C'est cet anthropocentrisme qui domina, semble-t-il, l. a. perception que les Lumières se firent de l'animal. Aux bêtes sauvages furent souvent préférés les animaux domestiques, les petits oiseaux décoratifs, les tendres moutons des pastorales.

A travers un choix de peintures, dessins, gravures, terres cuites, porcelaines et faïences, se verra donc un animal "miroir de l'homme", inventé par une société qui aima l. a. nature à situation qu'elle soit extrêmement civilisée, et toujours à son carrier, fût-ce pour se parodier elle-même.
Même si le grand méchant loup continua à hanter les imaginations, il eut, déguisé en berger par los angeles Fontaine, un point moins sanguinaire, tandis que singes et papillons prirent parfois d'étranges allures de libertins de salons.

Une Histoire naturelle "pas si naturelle que ça" dira Voltaire de l'ouvrage de son contemporain.

L'exposition L'animal miroir de l'homme. Petit bestiaire du XVIII ème siècle s'est tenue au musée Cognacq-Jay du 29 janvier au 12 mai 1996.

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