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    Sale 1910

    Sporting And Wildlife Art Including The Collection Of Doug And Ellen Miller

    28 November 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 161

    William R. Leigh (American, 1866-1955)

    Sacred Ibis; Griffon Vulture; Hyrax; Hyenna and Lioness

    Price Realised  


    William R. Leigh (American, 1866-1955)
    Sacred Ibis; Griffon Vulture; Hyrax; Hyenna and Lioness
    signed 'W.R. LEIGH' (three lower left, two lower right)
    pen and black ink on paper
    6¾ x 6 in. (17.1 x 15.2 cm.); 6¼ x 7¼ in. (15.9 x 18.4 cm.) and 3¾ x 5¼ in. (9.5 x 13.3 cm.)
    five (5)

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    Leigh's last part of the African journey took him from the Congo back to Uganda and on to Lake Hannington in Kenya. On this strenuous journey the party went to Lake Bunyoni where they camped on the Kabale side for the night. Here he was able to study the swamp and its inhabitants including the sacred ibis, '...after supper I sat watching the blood-red sun go down over the feathery papyrus, while, still as death, a pair of ibis flew low over the tuftted growths, black against the red.' (W.R. Leigh, Frontiers of Enchantment, London, 1939, p. 200).
    Leigh's description of the hyena is extensive and unsympathetic, particularly detailing their 'laugh','I maintain that neither the human nor any other vocal apparatus on earth can rival that of the hyenea for poignant expressiveness...the hyena can laugh. Yes, indeed, I have heard him. His laugh is the most dreadful sound you may ever hear on this earth.' (op. cit., p. 76 and 78). Another of the 'Water-hole Group' featured in the same chapter is the griffon vulture, 'The hideous naked head and neck of the griffon vulture, rising from a white collar, and its ponderous and slouchy walk...' (op. cit., p. 80).

    Leigh came upon the hyrax whilst in Lukenia, 'In full view, silhouetted against the sky, I sat on the top of the kopje and waited, and by the time five minutes had elapsed things began to happen. On the floor of the pit below me, under the edge of one great rocks, a depression in the rocky floor left an eight-inch opening between floor and slab. Here I spied eight little feet, the animals they belonged to being hidden from me on my high perch by the overhanging rock. They were curious little feet, with clawless toes. Presently the owners-two queer little tailless fellows about the weight of a woodchuck, and of a brindle-brown colour - came out from under the rock into the sunlight. I had never seen or even read of such creatures. Later Akeley told me that the animals were hyraxes, whose nearest relative is the hippopotamus, and that the suction of their spongy, rubber-like feet enables them to climb rocks and trees amazingly.' (op. cit., pp. 31-32).

    The lioness illustrated was the result of Leigh's imagination as he sits in the light of a full moon, 'Yet in fancy I see the sinuous form of the waiting lioness, crouched, intent. I see the panic-stricken herbivores mill and huddle...' (op. cit., p. 138).


    with Fenn Galleries, Ltd, Santa Fe, from whom purchased.

    Pre-Lot Text



    W.R. Leigh, Frontiers of Enchantment, London, 1939, illustrated p. 32, 81, 83, 139, 201.