Gold and Death

My friend Ben sent out blank postcards to friends on the approach of his birthday, inviting the recipients to respond by ‘decorating’ them. The theme was ‘Death and Gold’. Here’s my offering to him: Man Slain by a Tiger.

I based it on this handsome Staffordshire piece titled The Death of Munrow, though I simplified the figure of the prone man, making it a little more stiff and doll-like because I was after a more illustrative quality.

9 thoughts on “Gold and Death

  1. LOL, Clive. Now we all know exactly how to get custom illustrations from our favorite painter!!

    I like your drawing of a tiger better than the model you drew! It has not only more gold, but more movement. What an extraordinary subject for a Staffordshire. Do they often dive into the macabre?

    • With surprising frequency. There are a number of versions of a Staffordshire group known as ‘The Lion Queen’, commemorating Ellen Bright, an animal trainer who died in 1850 when only 16, having been mauled by a tiger while performing with Wombell’s Circus! There’s also an extraordinary group showing a dead woman on which a tiger, an escapee from a menagerie, crouches, with the woman’s bonneted baby dangling from its’ jaws! I assume the popularity of suchlike was driven by a mixture of the Victorian inclination toward sentimentality, coupled with a relish for Penny Dreadful horrors.

      I’m thinking of making a little set of images based on the theme, possibly to be titled ‘Beastly Passions’!

      Frankly I’m surprised you haven’t come up with the postcard wheeze yourself! Maybe you should try me! (-;

      • Ah, you know me well. My “guestbook” at my wedding, where most people just have guests sign in or write a well wish or two? I covered sketch books with raw silk and wrote a little sign requesting that my guests draw me a picture. As, umm, several of them are professional artists, and others, like me, can barely draw a stick figure, I ended up with a lovely, whimsical, and very eclectic collection. I have a rather wonderful photograph of my Uncle Simon standing, sketch book and pen in hand, watching the string quartet, and then a wonderful sketch, signed by said Uncle Simon, of said string quartet.

        It was through Uncle Simon that you and I originally met, if you remember – you’d posted a Tobias and the Angel sculpture that I thought might be one of his works.

        I think the Staffordshire thing is very very odd.

    • There are a number of Staffordshire groups that might be gathered under the general theme of Penny Dreadfuls… events from life and literature that end badly at the business ends of beasts…. that I’m toying with working on. But I’d quite like to take the idea further and make a series of contemporary works using news stories of run-ins with animals that result in death, re-imagined as though through the prism of the garishness, sentimentality and voyeurism of Staffordshire pottery groups. Much more complicated of course to express contemporary tragedies, though I do believe that art needs to look at everything. There should be no subjects beyond the painter’s reach.

  2. Gorgeous…especially the colour…so vibrant! It reminds of the 3D thingamabob called (I think) Tippoo’s tiger, in the V&A. I saw it as a child and it really sticks in the memory!

    • Shellie, my first thought was to make an image of Tipu’s Tiger. Then when I checked it out, while extremely beautiful it was less gold than I’d remembered. However, as is so often the way when you’re looking for one thing and find another, along the research route I’d spotted a Staffordshire group that was based on Tipu’s Tiger, and moreover the beast was a glorious and shining lemon-drop yellow decorated with lovely cursive stripes. So, given my love for Staffordshire pottery, I based the drawing on that.

      The tiger is pretty much as it is in the Staffordshire, but I’ve re-jigged it’s victim, ‘Munrow’, because I wanted a more naive, doll-like figure. The Staffordshire Munrow is rather elegantly and heroically draped, all curves, while I wanted an honest-to-goodness, ramrod-stiff felled ninepin! And because I also wanted this to have a Penny Plain/Tuppence Coloured charge, I made the colouring more vivid. Can’t beat that yellow/red/green combo!

  3. Wow, that was my first response and then, (as often,) ‘the colours man!’
    The tiger has no malice, it’s just being a tiger and the ‘noble man’ was just in the wrong place.
    Roaringly yours
    B x

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