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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Miss Clara and the Celebrity Beast in Art, 1500-1860

Barber Institute of Fine Arts / Birmingham / Art

In the mid-1700s, long before the wonder sheep Dolly made headlines as a clone or Grumpy Cat achieved internet fame, everyone was crazy about a ginormous Indian rhinoceros named Miss Clara. The 5,000-pound Clara sailed from Bengal to Rotterdam in 1741, transported by an ambitious Dutch sea captain. She then toured Europe—from Brussels to Venice, Paris to Warsaw, Prague to London—traveling in a wooden carriage drawn by eight horses, her thick hide kept hydrated with fish oil. Royal families paid court, and many artists captured her likeness. Miss Clara died in London in 1758. This exhibition commemorates the horned celebrity with portraiture, sculpture, and memorabilia. It also considers zoos and menageries, and the capture of these enormous and endangered beasts. —E.C.

Barber Institute of Fine Arts University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TS, United Kingdom
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