Think of the donkey as some second-rate four-legger relegated to the margins of history? On the contrary, not only has the beast long served as an indispensable pack animal and companion, it’s also been a global muse of artists for millennia. Here are some of our favorite ass-tistic renderings across space and time, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
New Inventions of Modern Times [Nova Reperta], The Invention of the Olive Oil Press, Jan Collaert I, Netherlands, ca. 1600, Engraving.
The Fable of the Miller, His Son, and the Donkey, Elihu Vedder, American, ca. 1867”“68, Oil on Canvas.
Tomb Chapel of Raemkai: East Wall, Egypt, ca. 2446”“2389 BC, Limestone and Paint.
Model of Two Donkeys with Drivers, Egypt, ca. 2030”“1850 BC, Wood and Paint.
The Good Samaritan Putting the Traveller on His Donkey, from The Parable of the Good Samaritan, Heinrich Aldergrever, Germany, after 1554, Engraving.
Terracotta Amphora (jar), Attributed to the Orvieto Painter, Greece, ca. 540 BC, Terracotta.
Peasant on a Donkey, Giovanni Battista (“Titta”) Lusieri, Italy, 1755”“1821, Watercolor over Graphite.
Star-Shaped Tile, Iran, 13th”“14th century, Stonepaste.
Donkey, Jacopo Bassano (Jacopo da Ponte), Italy, 1649, Etching.
Palmesel, Germany, 15th century, Limewood with Paint.
The Spy Zambur Brings Mahiya to the City of Tawariq, Folio from a Hamzanama (Book of Hamza), Mah Muhammad, India, ca. 1570, Ink, Opaque Watercolor, and Gold on Cloth.