Bingham

Fur Traders Descending the Missouri, 1845
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

I had originally planned to write a blog on “Cats in Canoes” which is how I came across this picture of George Bingham’s painting.  I thought it would be the perfect starting point – a cat in a canoe as early as 1845. However after researching the painting I discovered that the animal in the boat is widely accepted as a bear cub and not a cat!  I came across several blogs that questioned its identity and thought I would see what our readers thought.  For many years the animal was believed to be a fox but is now officially identified as a black bear cub.  I read a convincing argument that the animal was a raccoon as “raccoon tail” caps were popular during that era.  As the pelt would be valuable to the fur trader it is feasible to believe that it is a black fox tethered to the bow.  I couldn’t find any convincing arguments for the bear cub and I personally don’t think it looks like one.  It does look like a cat from a distance but after a closer look you might change your mind.  You can view a larger image here: http://www.artexpertswebsite.com/pages/artists/bingham.php

Although initially I agreed with the cat lovers I now think the animal is a black fox.  What animal do you think it is?

BlackFox131black catblack bearraccoon