real histories

by uzwi

Thomas Sidney Cooper RA, 1803-1902, was so associated with paintings of cows that he became known as “Cow Cooper”. On his eightieth birthday he started the massive picture of cows you see here, completing it in six weeks. He seems to have painted it so large because he didn’t want anyone to buy it. Elsewhere this is an exemplary museum, repository of “all things stolen and stuffed”, its cabinets full of items that once had cultural significance and context but which now look sad, beaten down and really quite difficult to define. A Church of England primary school seems to have donated a mummified feline; or perhaps adopted it. You would do that out of sympathy, the instant you saw its minute teeth, though it doesn’t at all resemble a cat. There are various Victorian birds, along with their eggs, nests and environs; and, for the girls, many weapons! including “an armguard with dagger and pistols” (Madras, early 1800s), which looks like something from the cover of an astonishingly poor fantasy novel, early 1980s. An echidna is partly hidden beneath less indentifiable stuff. But then, suddenly and gloriously, these.Picture Cath Phillips