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Corpulent Cattle and Milk Machines: Nature, Art and the Ideal Type

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image of Society & Animals

The concept of a "breed" of domestic cattle is predominantly a social construct. The late eighteenth century development of intensive selective (in)breeding of livestock produced breeds that were visually distinguishable from each other. The adoption of breed standards was facilitated in part through paintings and drawings of idealized animals. These "ideal types" or "standards of perfection" further served as targets for breeders who attempted to achieve the artist's conception of the perfect animal. However, concepts of perfection change with fashion and thus ideal types constitute moving targets.



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