Period: Late Victorian
Provenance: The Hancock Museum (now the Great North Museum: Hancock)
The beautifully preserved great grey shrike (Lanius Excubitor) ; a rare British visitor; the specimen housed within a beautiful scientific sparse museum case, the pine sides later painted in chocolate brown paint, the whole being beautifully unassuming with ivory paper backing and lacking in any form of simulated habitat, the whole surviving from late Victorian England in good overall condition.
The overall composition is of a very high quality and the bird is in good condition with expected light fade to the plumage but nothing out of the ordinary. The glazing and case are all original and the rest of the composition is very well preserved with expected light wear to the case. There is a paper label to the front glazing reading ‘Birds collected by the late G Freeman (Claremore, Newcastle). Bequeathed to the Hancock Museum by his nephew, the late J.A. Dixon (Ramshawe, Co-bridge) received August 1922’.
Less than 200 of the Great Grey Shrikes are thought to visit the UK each year and are more commonly seen in Asia and north Africa.
The ruthless bird hunts small mammals , lizards and beetles before storing them in a bush or tree to devour later. They arrive, on the east coast at first, in autumn and many stay throughout winter and into spring (sometimes as late as April or May), when they migrate back to their breeding grounds in Scandinavia.
The work here, what with the very precise mounting, superb preservation, sparse case, and lack of any habitat are all signs of a top maker such as Joseph Cullingford.
A beautiful case and a stunning specimen, all with a good provenance.