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In the Company of Animals: Art, Literature, and Music at the Morgan
March 2 through May 20, 2012

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John James Audubon, (1785–1851)
Gray Rabbit: Old Male, Female, and Young, nineteenth century
Watercolor and graphite, with gouache
23 7/8 x 34 3/16 inches (604 x 870mm)
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1910; 1976.12:4

Audubon's Rabbit
This drawing is a preparatory study for an image that appears in The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America (1845–48). The text accompanying the image comments on the rabbit's pesky habits: "It often makes inroads upon the kitchen-garden, feasting on the young green peas, lettuces, cabbages, &c., and doing a great deal of mischief." On the verso of this drawing, Audubon wrote a very personal note: "I drew this Hare during one of the days of deepest sorrow I have felt in my life, and my only solace was derived from my Labour. This morning our beloved Daughter [-in-Law] Eliza died."


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Abraham Bloemaert (1566–1651)
St. Roch
Red gouache, heightened with white gouache, over traces of black chalk, and possibly some pen and ink and wash
11 3/8 x 8 1/2 inches (290 x 215 mm)
Gift of J. P. Morgan, Jr., 1924; I, 229b

St. Roch's Faithful Dog
St. Roch, the patron saint of plague sufferers, is shown here in all his agony. Resting at the base of a tree, a wound on his leg and the pain evident in his face, he is watched over by an angel. His only companion is a dog, who has brought him some bread. The legend is that this dog—in some versions, the dog was St. Roch's, and in others, the dog belonged to a local nobleman—brought bread every day and licked his wounds to heal them.


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Samuel Daniell (1775–1811)
Hippopotamus
Watercolor, over graphite
12 1/2 x 17 5/8 inches (317 x 448 mm)
Purchased as a gift of Mrs. Peter McBean; 1977.28

Hippopotamus From Botswana
The English painter Samuel Daniell traveled to South Africa in late 1799, during the first British occupation. Two years later he was appointed secretary and draftsman of a government trading mission sent to Bechuanaland, now Botswana. The present drawing was done on this six-month-long expedition, during which Daniell sketched and recorded views of indigenous animals in their natural habitats. This hippo, who dominates his surroundings, appears in Daniell's book African Scenery and Animals, published in 1804.


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William Darton, (1781–1854)
British and Foreign Animals: A New Game, Moral, Instructive and Amusing
London: William Darton, 58, Holborn Hill, between 1811 and 1830
49.5 x. 39.5 cm. fold. to 17 x 14 cm
Gift of Julia P. Wightman, 1991; PML 86937

A Moral, Instructive, and Amusing Game for Children
One begins this board game on the lowly jackal and ends on the dignified lion. Lucky enough to land on the horse, you may "Spin again, for a ride on one of these noble animals." Land on the lynx, however, and you must "Go back one turn lest the piercing eye of this animal discovers your foibles." The accompanying booklet includes descriptions of each animal's habitat and behaviors as well as its attributed moral failings or strengths. The greediness of the jackal, for example, is highlighted: "They are said to attend caravans and to follow armies, in hopes of being furnished with a banquet by disease or battle."


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Claude Debussy, (1862–1918)
La boîte à joujoux: ballet pour enfants
Paris: Durand, ca. 1913
25 x 33 cm
James Fuld Music Collection; PMC 920

Debussy's Elephant
Debussy composed The Toy Box, a ballet for children, at the suggestion of the artist André. Hellé., who conceived of and illustrated the story. In the ballet, toys come to life, escape from their box, fall in love, and have all sorts of adventures. In this portion of the piano score, which begins on the previous page, the elephant is represented by an exotic arabesque, which Debussy claimed in a footnote was an "old Hindu chant still used today in the taming of elephants." One commentator suggests that the musical theme associated with the elephant may have first been conceived for a plan Debussy later abandoned: a book of preludes inspired by Kipling's Jungle Book.


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Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863)
Royal Tiger
Pen and brown ink, and watercolor, over graphite
Signed at lower right in pen and brown ink, Eug. Delacroix.
7 x 10 9/16 inches (178 x 268 mm)
Thaw Collection; 2006.54

Tiger Tiger
The French artist Delacroix was drawn to exotic cats. "Tigers, panthers, jaguars, lions, etc. Why is it that these things have stirred me so much? Can it be because I have gone outside the everyday thoughts that are my world; away from the street that is my entire universe?" The first living royal, or Bengal, tiger arrived in Paris in 1831, and Delacroix and his good friend Barye, the animal sculptor, often visited the menagerie at the Jardin des Plantes to observe the majestic creature.

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Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.