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|It was most probably the Lincolnshire Ox
Written by JulieW
(5/10/2008 5:16 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, The Cow again, penned by Elbč
It was so famous an animal that even Emma had heard of it: so let's explain why......
Here is Stubbs' famous picture of it :
The Lincolnshire Ox was a very famous animal, and was so popular,exhibiting a sort of pride in British achievements that so magnificent a specimen could be bred in England, that a painting and prints of that painting were disseminated around the country, after it was one of the first of a series of exceptional farm animals to be put on public exhibition.
Lets look at the Ox in detail.
The Lincolnshire Ox was a prize Lincolnshire Shorthorn bull kept at Gedney in Lincolnshire by John Bough in November 1782 and owned by John Gibbons of Long Sutton, Lincolnshire. Long Sutton is approx. 2 miles distant from Gedney ;-) Tradition has it that Mr Gibbons won the bull in a cockfight and that is why the cockerel is included in Stubb' painting,above.The gentleman in the painting is the owner , MR Gibbons.
Having grown to an enormous size by being fed solely on grass and not on "cake", the ox was taken to London where it was put on show at the Lyceum in the Strand, to paying spectators from February 1790 until it was slaughtered in April 1791.
A handbill advertising the ox at the Lyceum stated:
'This uncommon Animal was bred at GEDNEY, in the county of LINCOLN, in November 1782, and fed (without oil-cake) by Mr JOHN GIBBONs of Long Sutton, in the said county: all judges agree, that he is much the LARGEST and FATTEST ever seen in England; being 19 hands high, and 3 feet 4 inches across the hips; his beef and tallow are computed to weigh 2800lb. -He is so remarkably docile, that great numbers of Ladies view him every day.'
The curiosity shown in the ox throughout Britain was typical of the contemporary interest in agricultural improvements(see my previous posts on Harriet's Welch cow ). Even though the Lincolnshire Ox was an exceptional animal, its weight of over a ton was quite a dramatic impprovement on the average 400lb meat yield of cattle a century before. It was, if you like, living proof of breeding progress and pride in Britain's ability to be in the forefront of agricultural improvements. No wonder Emma thought Robert MArtin and Mr Knightley wwere talking about it, even if she was joking ;-).
In London the ox was shown both at the Lyceum in the Strand and briefly at the Duke of Gloucester's riding stables in Hyde Park. This royal interest earned it the title 'The Royal Lincolnshire Ox'. Even after the ox was sold for slaughter the purchasers continued to exhibit parts of the beast ( I do have to say-"YUK").
Mr Gibbons commissioned Stubbs to paint the ox in March 1790 on the recommendation of Sir Joseph Banks, the President of the Royal Society and a major landowner in north Lincolnshire. He knew of Stub's abilities for it was while living on Sir Jsoeph's lands that Stubbs conducted his dissection experiments on horses,which gave him an unrivaled knowledge of the bone and muscle strucltrue of those animals.
Stubbs dedicated the painting to Sir Joseph as follows:
To Sr. Joseph Banks Bart. President of the Royal Society. This print of the Lincolnshire ox, is humbly dedicated by his obedt. & devoted servt. Jno. Gibbons. This uncommon animal was fed (without oil cake) by Mr. John Gibbons, of Long Sutton in the county of Lincoln, and was carry’d to London in a machine, Feby. 1790, when he was exhibited by Gloucester, at his riding house, in Hyde Park, and then removed to the Lyceum in the Strand, where the exhibition of him still continues, & where this print was subscrib’d to by a great number of noblemen and gentlemen; all judges agree that the Lincolnshire ox, far exceeded any ever seen in size and fatness, being 19 hands in height and 3 feet & 4 inches across the hips. A wager of 400 pounds was offer’d that he would cut 9 10 11 & 12 inches think of solid fat upon the rib if slaughter’d in the spring of 1790.
George Townly Stubbs engraved the print of the painting, which sold approximately 500 copies at the price of half a guinea a print. Among the names on the subscription list were members of the royal family, the Duke of Orleans and several members of the British aristocracy.
And that is the history of some famous ox
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