Scary monsters – artist (almost) unknown

This truly horrible image is the stuff of nightmares. I can’t quite relate the birds, if indeed they are birds, to anything in nature, so I will assume that the etcher, one J. B. Kenrick, was on something at the time, or just had a rather lurid imagination.

But exactly who was the etcher? I’ve tried every source, but cannot find anyone matching that name in any reference work listing artists. The only candidates I can locate are Joseph and Josephus Kendrick, who were both sculptors. It is possible that one of these may have decided to drop the letter  ‘d’ in their name. And as I also acquired two other, much smaller, much less accomplished etchings with the same signature, which depict some sinister monkeys sitting in a circle, it could be that one of these sculptors amused himself with etching some time in the early or mid nineteenth century. Or the etcher could be a gifted amateur called Kenrick who has escaped the attention of art historians.

It did occur to me that in depicting monkeys Kenrick might have been attempting a satiric comment on Darwin, but the horrific ‘ birds’ don’t seem to be satirical in any way. I would, however, welcome any interpretation of this image ---the more outlandish the better. [RH]

5 thoughts on “Scary monsters – artist (almost) unknown

  1. Anonymous

    No real evidence, but your mention of Darwinism chimed with this snippet from DNB (linked from Wikip) for Kenrick, John (1788–1877), historian and tutor:
    "Although only marginally concerned with natural science itself, he did help mould Unitarian reactions to the religious controversies over Darwinism and the origins of the earth." Same source says he started a c.19-year stint as Curator of antiquities for the Yorkshire Museum a year or so before the publication of the Origin of Species (1859/60).

  2. Anonymous

    Another long shot: the birds look a bit like hybrids of plucked chickens and visualisations of the proto-bird Archaeopteryx (first fossil skeleton discovered 1861, mentioned by Darwin in the 4th edition of Origin, according to Wikipedia). So could still be satirical in some obscure way, if the monkeys are?

  3. admin Post author

    Many thanks Anon have passed these excellent incites on to RH who is fascinated by this. New avenues of research! The Darwin lead could prove profitable. N

  4. Flying Tiger

    There really isn't anything surreal about the birds. The decay pattern where the feathers have rotted away is characteristic of buried bird corposes when dug up so he may have sketched this from "life".


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