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    Sale 5316

    Children's & Illustrated Books & Original Illustrations

    18 December 2008, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 127

    Ernest Howard Shepard (1879-1976)

    Michael and Moses the tortoise

    Price Realised  


    Ernest Howard Shepard (1879-1976)
    Michael and Moses the tortoise
    signed 'Ernest H Shephard' (lower left) and inscribed with poem
    pencil, pen and black ink
    12 x 8½ in. (30.5 x 21.6 cm.)

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    Michael and Moses:

    Michael and Moses are persons of mark
    Always together from morning to dark -
    Michael in first for the most part is found;
    Moses labours to follow him round.

    Moses, when first he arrived; we were told,
    Probably might be some thirty years old;
    Michael, who here takes him out for a drive
    (As you observe in the picture) is five.

    Moses is dumb and exceedingly slow;
    True to the legend of ages ago;
    Michael is talkative; Michael is swift,
    Ready to give his companion a lift.
    Moses, who wars upon insects and slugs;
    Meekly submits to embarrassing hugs,
    Trusting no doubt on his strong carapace
    Should he be dropped on too stray a place.

    When the night falls and his prayers have been said,
    Michael obediently takes to his bed,
    Only insisting that down by his toes
    Moses should now be allowed to repose.

    Strange are the friendships of child and of beast -
    Witness what elephants do in the East;
    Witness the ways of this comical pair,
    Michael and Moses when taking the air.

    Charles L. Graves

    The subject of this work is Michael Adrian Graves and his tortoise Moses. It was drawn at Falloden, a large estate in Northumbria where his father Sir Charles Graves lived with his wife, Lady Alice Graves. Michael was brought up at Falloden and in the summer he would sleep in the summer house due to breathing problems. Shepard was a friend of the family and visited one summer when Michael was sleeping in the summer house. It was at this time that he made this series of drawings.
    Michael was nephew to Viscount Grey of Falloden who was Foreign Secretary during the First World War.

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    Given to the family by the artist, and thence by descent.