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Miss Clara and the Celebrity Beast in Art 1500–1860

The forgotten story of the rhinoceros Miss Clara, the most famous animal of the eighteenth century.

“Miss Clara” arrived in Europe from the Dutch East Indies in 1741 and was toured around Europe to huge acclaim and excitement. The first rhinoceros to be seen on mainland Europe since 1579, Clara quickly became an object of great wonder and affection. Her fame generated a massive industry in souvenirs and imagery, from life-size paintings by major masters to cheap popular prints. There were even Clara-inspired clocks and hairstyles. 

This book brings us the story of the phenomenon of Clara, with a particular focus on three-dimensional representations of her, set within the context of other celebrity pachyderms represented by artists between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. At the core of the book is a small bronze statue of Miss Clara held by the Barber Museum, where it is a favorite of visitors. Accompanying essays put the works in their proper historical and artistic context.

96 pages | 65 color plates | 8 1/4 x 8 1/4

Art: British Art, European Art

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"Wenley offers an excellent introduction to the subject—accessible but academically rigorous....The book is exquisitely illustrated."

Archives of Natural History

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