Showing you that you must always be on guard against offerings the so-called experts give you, in museums, the press, or in statements of fact that come from the mouths of government leaders, etc., is the front page from the vaunted British Museum.
Blaringly featured is the bust of Oliver Cromwell by one Louis-Franois (sic) Roubiliac.
How this glaring title caption possibly got through a screen of museum academics, biography experts, and linguistic specialists all, boggles the mind.
The major caption on a feature page, no less, on the Museum's window to the world...
And not just a simple typo either.
The error is re-entered with gusto on the lead title on another feature page...
Can it get worse?
Sure it can...
Here on another main page inviting you to Explore the terracotta portrait of Cromwell by one Louis Roublllac (sic).
Now where in the English language do three "l"s sit side by side? Or is it Roubillac? Just as erroneous.
Luckily the Museum soon gets that straightened out and replaces it with Louis Roubiliao (sic)... who was possibly his Portuguese cousin!!!
Don't, you may ask, do museum curators, department heads, and academics read the stuff they put before the public?
They're too busy flying to international conferences, thumbing their blackberries, going to meetings, or taking extended lunches or going home early with the voice mail running... Pity voice mail can't spell check. So now they're found out...
These blaring mistakes have been up for months... Four mistakes in one name; must be some kind of record.
At least they have spelled Louis' middle name properly at last...
But Canada's esteemed Royal Ontario Museum loudly posts its own glaring errors by blindly repeating blatantly false information.
|Go to Fake at the Royal Ontario Museum|
|Go to The Fakes Pages|
|Great Canadian Heritage Treasure||
A rare and fabulous terra cotta bust by one of Canada's very best 19th and 20th century sculptors.
The bust is outstanding for a number of reasons. It is rare in that it features a known Canadian Indian (First Nations) personality. Canadians, of course, had seen countless "cigar store Indians" in the past 200 years, all wonderfully resplendent in regalia and suitably painted and feathered up to conform to the popular imagination of the time.
But in the nationalist euphoria that surrounded the coming of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee of 1897 everyone wanted to see Canadian statues and busts celebrating her famous - sons, only, thank you.
One of those was General Brock, credited with saving Canada from becoming American in 1812. And when one thought of Brock one thought of Tecumseh, his trusty Indian ally, who fought to stem the tide of a US invasion across the Detroit border, in the cause for which both died.
Hamilton MacCarthy made a matched pair of Brock and Tecumseh in 1896, just in time to catch the marketing boom of memorabilia that was expected in the wake of the Jubilee the next year.
|Portrait Bust, Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, Hamilton MacCarthy - 1896|
|Orig. terra cotta - Size - 39 cm; wt - 5 kg
Found - Cambridge, ON
|Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. - 1996, 1999, 2005|
This bust is very heavy, molded with thick walls of terra cotta clay with its tell-tale red colour.
The outside of the bust was repainted bronze many decades ago, which may also have been its original colour.
The chips off the base, a common problem with plaster and terra cotta figures because of the hurly burly of a hundred years and more of handling, have been painted over, a good indicator that a patina - however wonderfully aged it may be - is not actually the original finish.
Other obvious damage includes the necklace, where three of his bear claws have broken off, one on the back right, and two on the left. He also has a bad knock on his eyebrow though this gives the warrior a battle scar of which he no doubt had a few.
The biggest loss is from the stylized eagle beak that once overlooked his forehead. This kind of fabulous protruding extra was what artists liked to add to give a more three dimensional feel, but sadly, these projections often fall victim to a knock during transport, or during a boisterous office party, when drunks reel about groping at anything which resembles a human.
Until you start looking for broken details you don't even notice the flaws, on what is still a fantastic original antique bust personally made by a top Victorian artist.
This one is signed directly on the clay - not pressed on in a mold - by the master himself, MACCARTHY SCULP. 1896 along with a what may be some kind of batch number below.
Terra cotta sculpting can use simplified molds for large production runs but these Tecumseh busts are too varied to have been produced from a common pressing. Though the base may have been molded.
When you compare this bust with ones in other collections, you realize that Hamilton did not fashion only a single bust and copy it endlessly. There are major differences between ours and the others..
For instance, the bust on the left has four original claws a side. Our Tecumseh had only three per side, like the one on the right.
But again, the angling and positioning of the three claws is different between these two; the spacing is markedly different as is the direction in which they point.
The drapery, though following the same general outlines, varies also in the stylizing and placement of the folds.
Unlike plaster busts, which are poured, or even bronzes which are cast, these figures had the fingers of Hamilton MacCarthy actually squeezing and pressing their terra cotta into shape. Though he worked from a master plan, of how he wanted the final bust to look, he allowed for artistic expression in the details.
|Go to Tecumseh|
Those who think sculptors can't work fast, should remember the case of famed US sculptor Karl Gebhardt, who took weeks to craft a terra cotta bust of Mark Twain, for the frontispiece of the first edition of Huckleberry Finn in 1884.
Sadly it was suddenly destroyed in a fire. Gebhardt went to work, and within days had a far better likeness right than the earlier one.
So it was quite possible, once Hamilton had Tecumseh down pat, for him to grind out another superb one in a few days, each successive one getting better than the last...
Since terra cotta is a fragile medium, compared to bronze, spelter, or other metals, repairs are often necessary. The British Museum has an Oliver Cromwell left from c 1759, by Louis-François Roubiliac which it notes as "after restoration."