Saturday, January 18, 2014

Figure of the Day: The Death of Munrow, 1830

The Death of Munrow
Staffordshire, 1830
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Though rather naïve in its modeling, this ceramic sculpture depicts a serious subject--the death of Lieutenant Hugh Monro (Munrow), a young British army officer serving in India, who was mauled by a tiger while picnicking on a hunting trip in 1792. 

Monro's gruesome death is thought to have been the inspiration for the creation of the automaton and mechanical organ called “Tippoo's Tiger” which is one of the V&A's most popular exhibits.  “Tippoo's Tiger” was created for the Indian ruler Tipu Sultan, who was said to have loathed the British so deeply that he commissioned the piece showing the dominance of India over Britain. 
This ceramic Staffordshire group from 1830 mirrors the design of the famed automaton, causing one to conclude that the modeler must have seen images of Tippoos Tiger which was a popular theme for engravings.  

Here, Monro reclines at the feet of the tiger, wholly unaware of his fate.  Monro was  molded from a model for a standing figure of a military hero.  The piece is brightly enameled and labeled as, “THE DEATH OF MUNROW.”  

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