Animals in the Museum

Frank Tenney Johnson, American, 1874-1939, Colorado Forest Ranger (Trail's End), 1929, oil on canvas, City of Davenport Art Collection, Gift of Philip D. Adler, 1950.876

The faithful steed and ranger, never far apart, find the end of the trail together, and finish what they start. This Forest Ranger looks like he and his matching horse have had a long day, and are enjoying a rest and maybe a cool-down in the early evening light. What kinds of things can you imagine that a Forest Ranger would need to do for his job in the mountains of Colorado almost 100 years ago? Do you think he spent a lot of time with other people, or was his horse his closest companion? Make sure to look around at the art in this Western gallery. How many cowboys and their horses do you see? Do they always seem to have a horse?

André Normil, Haitian, 1934-2014, Jungle Scene, Circa 1970s, oil on canvas, Gift of Kenneth W. Weiser, David S. Weiser & Carolyn Silberman, 2018.26.3

Cats that roar along the shore and monkeys that always chatter. Fluttery wings and swimming things and hooves that clitter-clatter. If you look around this gallery, you will notice right away that Haitian paintings are often very bright and filled with imagery. Many of the animals you see here are not found on the island of Hispaniola, where the country of Haiti resides. Most of the animals pictured here are found on the continent of Africa. Many Haitians can trace their ancestors to countries on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. This painting is a perfect one to play I spy… What animals do you see that you might find in Africa? There are so many different types of creatures in this scene – can you imagine how the jungle might sound? How many types of big cats can you count? How many kinds of birds? Did you notice the tiny creatures like lizards, rabbits, butterflies and even a dragonfly?

Doris Lee, American, 1905-1983, New House, Circa 1949, oil on canvas, Friends of Art Acquisition Fund, 2016.7

New house, new house, by a babbling brook, a dog, a horse and even a cow, if you know where to look! Aledo, IL native Doris Lee presents a charming image of possibility at the building site of a new home. Look closely for building supplies, household items, and even an artwork hanging from a tree that also hides a bird nest. What building supplies can you spot? What household furniture can you see. Can you find all the animals? Which ones do you think are farm animals and which ones are pets?

Joost Droochsloot, Dutch, 1586-1666, Village Fete, 1649, oil on canvas, City of Davenport Collection, Gift of C.A. Ficke, 1925.80

People, people, everywhere going about their day, shopping, talking and playing with their dogs along the way. Part of the fun of this 17th century painting is just trying to pronounce the artist’s name! Droochloost portrays a busy village in this genre scene. Here we see the villagers talking, families walking together and children playing. How many dogs can you count in this painting? Do you think the dogs are peoples pets or stray animals?

Luis Juarez, Mexican, 1585-1638 The Marriage of the Virgin, 1620-1635, oil on canvas, Figge Art Museum, City of Davenport Art Collection, Gift of an Anonymous Donor, 1995.6

On white wings it floats above, bearing blessings this little dove. This painting represents the moment when the union of the Virgin Mary and Joseph is blessed by the Temple of Jerusalem’s high priest. Overhead hovers a white dove, symbolizing the presence of the Holy Spirit in this painting. The image of a dove is often used as a sign. What other things do you think of a dove symbolizing? Can you find another dove in this gallery?

Unidentified Artist, Owl and Owlets, circa 1920, limestone, private collection

These owls perch on a limestone tree, eyes unblinking – what do they see? This beautiful century-old sculpture carved from limestone displays an owl family roosting in the branches of a tree, complete with leaves and berries. Owls are usually solitary creatures, and this scene gives us a private glimpse into a rare moment. Owls are not usually thought of as pets. How do you think of them? An owl is often thought of as a symbol for certain characteristics. What do think they represent?