Apparently St. George Jackson Mivart (1827-1900) was quite the controversial figure in his day. He was an outspoken advocate for natural selection; got into tussles with Darwin, his son and academia; and write several books on the natural world and often focused his works on one type of animal. The book in question today is one on canines called Dogs, Jackals, Wolves, and Foxes: a Monograph of the Canidae which was published in 1890.
His book is full of wonderful color plates by the noted bird artist J.G. Keulemans (1842-1912). A Dutch bird artist and an arctic fox drawing? Lot’s of contradictions there considering these foxes have a particular fondness for bird eggs.
Again, we have the artist’s rendering to thank to seeing something we would not see in nature. The arctic fox, while not truly chameleon in its appearance does wear coats of different colors depending upon the season. In the snowy winter months, they have the beautiful white fur that makes them so recognizable and striking. In the warmer months, when the ground is brown, the arctic fox’s fur becomes a brownish-black. Keulemans has provided us a fox drawing that depicts both the winter and summer colors of the arctic fox side-by-side.
The pair sit along the edge of the shore. Blue water adds some color to an otherwise monotone drawing and a muted orange sky provides a nice backdrop for the two animals.
The detail on this vintage book plate is wonderful – we can see wonderful variations in the fur of the foxes and even individual strands. Keulemans provides us with a view of the fox’s leg structure, their luxurious tails and their facial structure by positioning the foxes so differently.
Can you tell? I really like this botanical print and arctic fox drawing. Best of all? There’s more fox drawings by Keulemans that I hope to share with you in the future.
This image is copyright free and in the public domain anywhere that extends copyrights 70 years after death or at least 120 years after publication when the original illustrator is unknown.