Eyes of Warning
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Simon Combes is best known for his paintings of African wildlife, but his deepest passion was the great cats of the world. In 1994, Combes, along with Greenwich Workshop founder Dave Usher, circled the globe to find and paint ten of the world’s most magnificent felines. The jaguar of South America proved to be the most elusive of the collection and the resulting portrait became one of Combes’ most celebrated works.
“I spent time with Reina, a thirteen-year-old female jaguar, at a 125,000-acre ranch in Venezuela called Hato El Frio where wildlife is protected,” wrote Simon Combes in his journal of the trip. “Previously, I had been concerned about how to show in my paintings the difference between jaguar and leopard. Having seen Reina, I will never forget. A jaguar is a bigger and more thickset animal, with powerful legs and a heavy head and jaw. Her coat was very short, shiny and a rich russet-gold that made her invisible in dappled sunlight, only ten yards away. The spots are bold and those on the flanks are large rough circles with several black dots inside — very different from a leopard’s rosettes.”