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Exhibit Catalog to the Morris County Historical Society's "Out of the Closet" Exhibition

Chinese Pheasant

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Click picture to enlarge

Artist unknown
Chinese Pheasant
Circa 19th century
Mixed media (feathers, paint)
3 3/4 x 11 1/2 in.
 
Gift from the Kollar Estate.

The History of Pheasants in the Western World
 

Archeological evidence suggests that large pheasants lived in southern France some 13 million years ago. "Chinese" pheasants lived in China 3,000 years ago, but the Romans are considered responsible for the spread of pheasants in Western Europe. Julius Caesar brought the pheasant to England when he invaded in the first century BC.

It wasn't until 1733 that the pheasant appeared in North America, when several pairs of the black-necked variety were introduced to New York. Other pheasant species were released in New Hampshire and New Jersey later in the 18th century.

 

This Feathered Collage

This unusual piece, with its real feathers and painted details, is particularly Victorian in that it is reminiscent of handicrafts of the period. Victorian handicraft instruction books and articles would often direct a handicrafter to use items found around the house to make collages - even particularly unusual items like mouse bones or real human hair. Here, real feathers are used in the rendering of the bird - feathers that have either been dyed to resemble pheasant feathers or perhaps plucked from a colorful bird and thus making it worth even more in the eye of the beholder.