Monday, April 5, 2010

How Many Mooses did the Duke of Richmond Have?

Anyone lucky enough to have been to the Hunterian Museum may have come across George Stubb's painting of a moose entitled, The Duke of Richmond’s First Bull Moose. Which begs the question: just how many mooses (moose? meese?) did Charlie have? Was he just being pompous and assuming he'd be acquiring more with a painting title like that?

Like any exotic animal from far-away lands, moose were a highly-prized object for the English nobleman's menagerie. When General Guy Carlton sent the Duke of Richmond a moose from Canada the anatomist, William Hunter called on the artist George Stubbs for a favor. Hunter's main interest was in humans but he seemed to have some natural scientific curiosity with the moose and its relationship to the elk indigenous to the British Isles. He commissioned Stubbs to paint Richmond's new moose for study. Stubbs included mature moose antlers in the painting since Richmond's did not have them. The painting goes to show just how much wasn't known about moose. Stubbs painted it in a rocky craggy mountain landscape, not knowing the specific habitat.

Three years later Hunter got word that a second moose was now in Richmond's possession. This time he grabbed some friends and his painting and went to see this second bull moose in person. Comparing the two moose caused him to make a second commission with Stubbs, a drawing entitled The Duke of Richmond’s Second Bull Moose.

One moose sounds to me like it would be enough! Two moose is a tad selfish. I can't tell you if Richmond took any more antlered wards in but I have a feeling he may have stopped at two (males, at least), just because his friend Hunter would have come along, dragging Stubbs behind, for yet another photo op with the new moose in town.

12 comments:

Pauline said...

Living in Alaska, moose wander in and out of my yard regularly. Particularly in winter (which it is still up here). I can assure you that they are quite dramatic, large and impressive. One is enough thank you indeed.

Bearded Lady said...

We occasionally see moose here too. I can imagine how exotic they must have seemed to someone who had never seen them. But I agree, more than one moose is conspicuous moose consumption.

K. L. said...

I love the post and the comments. Husband and I saw a moose several years ago in the woods behind one of Robert Frost's New Hampshire houses, along a poetry trail. Enormous, but quiet and rather majestic. He looked at us, while continuing to chomp placidly on leaves--we, with our mouths hanging open--then simply turned and moseyed deeper into the woods.

Heather Carroll said...

Seeing a moose in the wild is on my bucket list!

I would never think of one being dramatic, all the more reason to like them! But yet another reason not to keep one as pet. Think of the poor servants in charge of cleaning up after the moose!

heidenkind said...

Well, the moose needs a friend....

Isis' Wardrobe said...

The painter did a better job than this one:

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v159/Isis33/Beatelund/Leufsta/?action=view&current=IMG_2996.jpg

We had a Swedish king in the 17th century who tried to train mooses to be ridden for war. They didn't co-operate, but knowing from experience the feeling of meeting just one moose in the woods, the sight of many would probably have been very intimidating.

Paul Miller said...

Hey, Heather, here is a link about the ole moose vs. mooses thing: http://www.funtrivia.com/askft/Question54218.html
They are definitely more striking than pretty, imho.

Heather Carroll said...

Oh how funny! A moose army could be intimidating, that is until they begin going every which-way. He gets point for creativity. I do like that (inaccurate) painting painting though!

Heather Carroll said...

Hmm, in that case Paul, I think since I originally come from Algonquin territory I will begin to exclude plural from my life. For simplicity's sake.

Isis' Wardrobe said...

I like it too. It's like someone told the paiter that a moos looks like a cross between a horse and a bear... :-)

Tulip said...

"Two moose is a tad selfish": too funny! Frankly, I can't see the moose being happy. Wonder if they did much damage too?

Heather Carroll said...

I must do more extensive research to find out any other bits on these moose pets of Richmond's. I can't imagine it going well!