|Male leopard in South Africa, Wikipedia photo by Lukas Kaffer|
It can not only disguise a subject against its background, but also against others of its own kind, making the boundaries of the form hard to see. The effect would be especially powerful when these zebras are running off in all directions.
|Abbott Thayer with Richard Meryman, Peacock in the Woods, 1907.|
Doing a painting like this goes against our artistic instincts to separate forms from the background, yet the effect presents a powerful appeal to the viewer.
Other painters took up the idea around the same time, including John Singer Sargent. In his painting "The Hermit," he posed an old man in the foothills of the Alps and lit him with sun-dappled light, which nearly loses him in the the background.
In the left center of the picture are two well-hidden gazelles. The animals were based on a stuffed gazelle that Sargent brought with him as a prop on his alpine travels.------