Rhino travels to Warwickshire
3 October 2013
RAMM’s 105 year-old rhino has gone to the Warwickshire countryside to take part in an exhibition at Compton Verney art gallery – Curious Beasts: Animal Prints from the British Museum.
Big-game hunter Charles Victor Alexander Peel shot RAMM’s then-young rhino in the Brahmaputra Valley in Assam, north-east India on 20 February 1909. As the scientific name – Rhinoceros unicornis – suggests, adult Indian rhinos have a single horn. Immature rhinos do not, however, have horns making them ideal for exhibitions. Weight for weight, rhino horn is worth more than gold and, as wild rhinos become rarer, museum and private collections are increasingly targeted by criminal gangs.
Curious Beasts: Animal Prints form the British Museum explores a fascination with animals that endures through TV wildlife documentaries, zoo visits, social-media sharing and eco-tourism. The works date from 15th- to Early-19th Century, when such prints were the only way for the vast majority to experience the otherwise exotic.
RAMM’s rhino accompanies the British Museum’s Rhinoceros by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). Dürer had never seen a rhino and based his drawing on the written description and sketch of an artist who, in 1515, saw one of the first rhinos to arrive in Europe since Roman times. As a result, the work is anatomically rather inaccurate but certainly captures the majesty and presence of this incredible creature.
Compton Verney is also borrowing an Indian crested porcupine (Hystrix indica) to accompany The Famous Porcupine by Frederick Hendrik van Hove c.1672. RAMM now shuns animals from game hunters and acquired this specimen after it passed away at Paignton Zoo.
Curious Beasts: Animal Prints from the British Museum runs from 5 October to 15 December.
Image: Porky, RAMM’s Indian crested porcupine (Hystrix indica)