Colour Our Collections: ‘Study of a sheep’ by Walter Crane.

This ‘Study of a sheep’ is one of two pieces selected by Hannah and Steph for their first attempts at creating colouring sheets from pieces in our collections. It was drawn by the artist Walter Crane (1845-1915), who is perhaps best known for his illustrations for Toy Books. The success of Toy Books during the 19th. century helped to change the way we interact with and consume books during childhood.

‘Study of a sheep’ was drawn by the artist in pencil. The original piece displays some very fine lines, here Crane was perhaps using less pressure on his pencil as he drew. The piece was hand traced by Steph using an image of the original from our online collections search. The faint lines present on the drawing were particularly hard to make out during the tracing process but Steph has tried to capture them as best she can.

Walter Crane (1845-1915), Study of a sheep, pencil on paper. Accession number: WCA. Source: the Whitworth

The faint, incomplete outline of what appears to be hoof can be seen below one of the bolder, finished forelegs of the sheep in the foreground. A faint outline of another sheep in a laying position can be seen behind the sheep in the foreground.

Animals feature in many of the pieces we have by Walter Crane. Some depict animals in more natural and realistic settings, others are fantastical. One piece in our collections comprises of drawings of one of Crane’s sons, Lancelot, as a rabbit. A good knowledge of and great attention to detail to the forms of many animals is apparent in Crane’s works. His ability to draw animals so well was no doubt cultivated by his regular visits to the Zoological Gardens in London during his apprenticeship with the wood engraver William James Linton.

Animals clearly remained a subject Crane continued to enjoy drawing. Our collections contain a drawing of ‘chameleons’, a term used to refer to green anole lizards in parts of the US, which dates back to 1895 during his time in Florida.

Walter Crane (1845-1915), Study of Chameleons and Yellow Cactus: Florida, April 25, 1892, pencil on paper. Accession number: WCA. Source: the Whitworth

Another piece depicts a man on a bicycle pulling a pig, who is sporting a rather fetching bonnet, along behind him. According to a note left on the piece by Crane himself, it was drawn ‘on the train’ on the 15th August 1905 ‘for the Rabbit’ (Lancelot).

Walter Crane (1845-1915), Drawing for ‘Rabbit’ (Lancelot Crane)- ‘drawn on the train, Aug.15 ’05‘, pencil on paper. Accession number: WCA. Source: the Whitworth

And yes; we’re going to try to turn this into a colouring sheet for you too! The lines are very faint, so it may be a bit of a challenge- but we’ll do our best.

Before we sign off, we’d like to leave you with a fun multi-coloured sheep an anonymous visitor left us at the gallery. We really like its funky fleece! Why use just one colour when you can use many?

A groovy multi-coloured sheep left at the gallery by an anonymous visitor.

You can download a pdf. version of our colouring sheet for Crane’s ‘Study of a sheep’ below.

Have fun colouring the Whitworth’s collections!

Hannah and Steph

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