As far back as the early 16th Century, horses served an important ceremonial role in the political and social life throughout Europe. In addition to satisfying the basic needs of transportation in civil and military life, the ability to ride became an essential mark of the nobility. So strong was the link, royal displays of horses and carriages in processional pageants became a staple of social life that can still be seen sometimes today.

These pageants were more than symbols of aristocratic power; they were a public spectacle and people of all stations flocked to view them.

Tableau of the Procession at the Coronation of Queen Victoria. Gift of John and Martha Daniels, 1999.
Tableau of the Procession at the Coronation of Queen Victoria. Gift of John and Martha Daniels, 1999.

Today’s highlight is a bound panorama that was printed to commemorate the coronation procession of Queen Victoria in 1838. The panorama was printed and folded into a booklet to give the impression of seeing the great procession.

"Captain General of the Royal Archers," and "Her Majesty's State Carriage."
“Captain General of the Royal Archers,” and “Her Majesty’s State Carriage.”

Panoramas were made popular by the painter Robert Barker, who began producing them in the late 18th Century.

Senior Econ &c," "Yeomen of the Guard," and "Junior Exons."
Senior Econ &c,” “Yeomen of the Guard,” and “Junior Exons.”

Barker eventually constructed a building to view panoramas in Leicester Square in London, and similar exhibitions spread throughout Europe through the 18th Century.

"Deputy Adjutant General &c."
“Deputy Adjutant General &c.”

This volume folds the pages back and forth; the image is continuous from page to page. NSLM has several other similar panoramas in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room, but they are all rolled into a scroll casing.

"Queen's Household."
“Queen’s Household.”

The grandeur of the horses and carriages, as well as the number of servants, guards, and attendants (all in matching livery), publicly showcased the power and grace of the English monarchy. We could only fit a few images here on the blog. Panoramas have been the subject of our weekly Gallery Talks, so if you have a chance please stop by the Library at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesdays to see the rest!

People often ask how exhibitions are developed. Sometimes it starts with a book, in this case – Peter Corbin: An Artist’s Creel. Peter Corbin presented the hardbound volume by Tom Davis and foreword by John Merwin to the National Sporting Library & Museum a few years ago. This sounds a lot more formal than it was. Peter was on his way back to Millbrook, NY, from the 2013 Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival in Thomasville, GA, where he’d been the featured artist. He popped into the Museum, introduced himself, and dropped off the hardbound volume published by Hudson Hill Press in 2005. The exchange was brief, but the cover of the book captured my imagination. It sat on my desk for weeks reminding me of how much I love Wyoming.

corbin artists creel cover
The 24 x 40-inch painting, Partners, 2004,  reproduced on the front cover was loaned by Mr. & Mrs. William C. Egan, III to the current NSLM exhibition.

I was already familiar with Peter’s work and only now feel marginally better admitting that we had strongly considered one of his paintings from the American Museum of Fly Fishing collection for the 2012 NSLM Angling in the Western World exhibition. We had a lot of tough choices to make in the twentieth-century section for the broad survey of the topic spanning over 300 years and ended up not including his painting.

We try to touch on a variety of NSLM’s core mission topics as often as possible which, other than equestrian pursuits, includes field sports such as freshwater fly fishing and wingshooting. As I thumbed through An Artist’s Creel, I was reminded that a member of the NSLM had suggested that the recognized sporting and wildlife artist, who is also an avid wingshooter and angler himself, would be a good candidate to consider for a fly fishing exhibit.

Power and Grace, 2001, oil on canvas, 24 x 36 inches, Collection of the Treiber Family, © Peter Corbin, 2001

The emerald green water and the energy of the leaping tarpon in Power and Grace caught my eye. Although Peter has also painted many freshwater scenes, this was the opposite of a depiction of a serene, contemplative moment. There’s been debate in fly fishing circles about whether fresh and saltwater fly fishing can even be considered the same sport. The NSLM’s collections focus on freshwater. With the addition of the George “Chappie” and Mary Chapman book collection in 2012, the Library became one of the most comprehensive research centers on twentieth-century freshwater fly fishing in the United States.

The diversity of the angling compositions in Peter’s book intrigued me. All captured the essence of some of the finest fly fishing waters in North America.

Near the Net, 1980, acrylic on canvas, 19 x 32 inches, Collection of Mr. & Mrs. Walter C. Teagle, III, © Peter Corbin, 1980

Near the Net, 1980, an acrylic painting of salmon fishing on the Restigouche River, Silas Beach, Quebec, Canada, won Peter the American Salmon Federation’s Artist of the Year in  1981. I learned that he came from a family of fly fisherman; his father taught him to cast his first fly by the age of seven. His great-grandfather started a hunting and fishing club in the Catskills, and Peter spent much time over the years trout fishing in the region, like the fly fisherman in the painting, The Sound of the Falls, 2002.

The Sound of the Falls, 2002, oil on canvas, 24 x 40 inches, Private Collection, ©Peter Corbin, 2002

Peter’s lifetime love for sport and art are reflected in each of his paintings. All of the works on view through July 3rd in Line Dance: The Art of Fly Fishing by Peter Corbin were selected to show the variety of compositions for which he has become known during his almost forty year career.

To gain a bit more insight into Peter’s quiet passion, motivations, and philosophy on art, we invite you to join him for a Gallery Talk on March 19th at 10:00 am and to take a moment to watch the 10-minute narrated slideshow below which he created to accompany the exhibition. A catalog is also available if you’d like to learn more about Peter Corbin’s sporting art career and fly fishing adventures. We look forward to seeing you in the galleries.

…and to think it all started with a book.


Some months back, we were doing some spring cleaning in the Library’s Lower Level. There’s a room there that was designed for materials processing, a fancy way of describing the “holding pen” for new materials waiting to be added to the collection. While tidying up, we opened a drawer and discovered a small cardboard box. Inside the box was the most startling piece of our collection we’ve ever encountered.

The box contained four prehistoric horse teeth.

Eohippus tooth, Eocene Epoch. Worland, WY. Gift of Ellen B. Wells.
Eohippus tooth, Eocene Epoch. Worland, WY. Gift of Ellen B. Wells.

It’s a little ambiguous to call these “horse” teeth, as the genera involved here definitely pre-date the horse as we know it. The above example is a sharp tooth of an Eohippus, which dates to roughly 50 million years ago. Eohippus was a North American equid ungulate, and was much smaller than the horses of today.

Mesohippus tooth, Middle Eocene Epoch. Badlands, South Dakota. Gift of Ellen B. Wells.

Somewhat newer is the tooth from the Middle Eocene (30-40 million years ago) Mesohippus. Our tooth was discovered in South Dakota, and is one of the low crowned teeth distinctive of the genus. The Mesohippus had these grinding teeth behind the front teeth, where the bit fits in the mouth of today’s horse.

Picture of a reconstructed fossil of Mesohippus barbouri at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Photo frpm Wikimedia Commins, by David Starner, 2010.
Picture of a reconstructed fossil of Mesohippus barbouri at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons, by David Starner, 2010.

Also included are two far more recent teeth. One is from Nannippus, an extinct North American horse of the Pliocene Epoch (about 3 to 4 million years ago). The other is from Hipparion, which may have lived as recently as 700,000 years ago in the Pleistocene Epoch.

Nannippus tooth, Pliocene Epoch. Polk Co., Florida. Gift of Ellen B. Wells.
Nannippus tooth, Pliocene Epoch. Polk Co., Florida. Gift of Ellen B. Wells.

These teeth are much larger and recognizable as horse teeth. Hipparion much more closely resembled modern horses, though specimens found have been about the size of small ponies.

Hipparion tooth, Pleistocene Epoch. Polk Co., Florida. Gift of Ellen B. Wells.
Hipparion tooth, Pleistocene Epoch. Polk Co., Florida. Gift of Ellen B. Wells.

We were fascinated to learn a little bit about the evolution of horses by opening that box. We’re currently storing the teeth, and look forward to learning more about these early equine species! Do you know more about prehistoric horses? And what’s the strangest thing you’ve ever found in a library? Get in touch to share with us!