200 Years. 200 Stories. Story 111: “Teddy’s Hat Rack ”

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plaster cast of James Lippitt Clark's rhino sculpture in the Academy's Library
James Lippitt Clark’s sculpture is on display in the Ewell Sale Stewart Library & Archives.

Teddy’s Hat Rack

It cuts an imposing figure, especially when you realize that it’s only 38 inches long. “African Black Rhino with Tick Birds” (also known as “The Battleship of the Plains”) was created by James Lippitt Clark in 1912. In addition to being a notable American wildlife artist, Clark was the master taxidermist responsible for many of the dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History.

The Academy’s copy of this sculpture is a plaster cast. It had been hidden away in storage, but Senior Fellow Robert M. Peck recently rescued it from obscurity and placed it on display in the Ewell Sale Stewart Library and Archives. Two bronze copies of Clark’s creation also exist. One of these, once part of the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is now a prized holding at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The other bronze went to Sagamore Hill, Theodore Roosevelt’s summer house on Oyster Bay, Long Island. Word has it that the former president used the rhino’s impressive horn as a personal hat rack.

You can see the Academy’s copy of Clark’s sculpture through the Library’s glass doors on your next visit. Better yet, come into the Library on any weekday at 3:15 pm for a closer look. You’ll also experience our daily page turning of John James Audubon’s The Birds of America.

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