Lord Edward Smith Stanley, the 13th Earl of Derby (1775-1851) developed a passionate interest in natural history from a young age. Birds were his first love and in 1806 he purchased his first major acquisition of over 100 mounted specimens at the sale of the Leverian Museum. Alongside this he developed a collection of living animals, building up one of the largest aviaries and menageries in Europe on the Knowsley Hall estate, near Liverpool. Animals that died in captivity were donated to the Knowsley Museum, which was later bequeathed to the public,thereby founding the Liverpool Museum in 1951.
A great friend and patron of Edward Lear it was said of the 13th Earl that 'so great was his attachment to zoology that he had formed at Knowsley such collections of living animals and birds as far surpass any menagerie or aviary previously attempted by any private person in this country' (Annual Register, 1851). Lear was employed by Derby to illustrate Gleanings from the Menagerie and Aviary at Knowsley Hall, 1846. Many of the limericks in Lear's Book of Nonsense (1846) were composed at Knowsley between 1831 and 1837.
We are grateful to Sarah Kellam, née Ansdell, for her assistance in preparing this catalogue entry. Sarah welcomes enquiries via her website, with particular regard to the catalogue raisonné that she is compiling on her great-great-grandfather. www.richardansdell.co.uk