Our next object illustrates the story of two brothers from Yorkshire who found new ways to photograph the natural world. These photos show an ox-hide, which was placed over a wooden frame to hide the photographer and enable him to capture better images of wild birds and their nests. The “Stuffed Ox” was one of many methods that Richard and Cherry Kearton developed in their pioneering photographic careers.
The brothers were from Swaledale: born in Thwaite, educated in Muker. Richard published his first book, Birds’ Nests, Eggs and Egg Collecting, in 1890. After Cherry took the first ever photograph of a bird’s nest with eggs, in 1892, the two worked together on British Birds’ Nests (1895), the first such book fully illustrated with photos.
Richard published many more books, including his autobiography, A Naturalists’ Pilgrimage. He became a sought-after public speaker, illustrating his nature talks with lantern slides.
Cherry became a wildlife photographer and film-maker, travelling the world to photograph in remote locations. He also published extensively, with particular intereste in Africa, penguins, and the adventures of his menagerie of animals.
Find out more about the Keartons’ lives and works via Watch the Birdie!, by Dr W.R. Mitchell and Direct from Nature, by John Bevis. Dr Mitchell gathered many of the brothers’ published books and some papers (correspondence and publicity) in researching his book: these are now in Special Collections.