The artistic Mr Mayhew

I have recently had the opportunity to look more closely at the almost 400 watercolours by Edward Mayhew that we acquired in 1990 and which are now available to view on our Vet History site

Edward Mayhew (1808-1868) was the brother of Henry Mayhew, founding editor of Punch. It is thought he spent his early years in the theatre before enrolling at the London Veterinary College in 1843 when he was in his 30s. He qualified as a member of the RCVS on 6 February 1845 and became a member of RCVS Council just over a year later.

Reports of the meetings in the three years Mayhew spent on Council show him to be a man who was not afraid to speak his mind, especially where the Professors at both the London and Edinburgh veterinary schools were concerned. His rather short obituary in The Veterinarian (November 1868 p810) says very little about him except “He was well known as the author of several veterinary works.”

It is for two of these veterinary works, Illustrated horse doctor  and Illustrated horse management, that the watercolours were prepared and most of them have counterparts in the published books.

The drawings, which were converted into woodcuts for publication, reveal a man of no small artistic talent.

The collection includes illustrations:  of diseases including the stages of laminitis

The stages of laminitis

methods of treatment – inserting a tube into the stomach of a horse

Inserting a tube into the stomach of a horse

and show how horses, and their keepers, should be housed

Plan showing how a stable can have a grooms house attached alongside

They also reveal something of the social conditions at the time – including this ‘Peep into the Grooms Home’

A Peep into the Grooms Home

My favourites are the ones which show Mayhew’s  sense of humour – for example this drawing titled ‘Never mount a strange horse in a crowded place.’ I particularly like the ‘flying’ dog on the bottom right!

Never mount a strange horse in a crowded place

 Update (25/8/15)

Whilst researching for my lastest blog post on Mayhew I found an interesting account of the Mayhew family in George Hodder’s  Memories of my time: including personal reminiscences of eminent men  (London: Tinsley Brothers, 1870)

The section on Edward Mayhew (pp58-62)  gives information on his health when producing these illustrations  and mentions that his brother Julius, an architect, helped with the illustrations and designs for the stables.

Links to digitised images

Images used in Illustrated Horse Doctor

Images used in Illustrated Horse Management

Images that do not appear in published works