Bessie and Victoria are nearly identical to each other and to the real thing. It’s not just the artistic detail, which is beyond impressive. There’s a realism and a feel. A pair of content rhinos (as conveyed by their body language, facial expression, and relaxed prehensile lip), bellies full, maybe heading for a soak in the pond during the heat of the day.
Go ahead and get up close. This is probably the only time you’ll ever be able to touch such a realistic Indian Rhinoceros (also called Greater One-Horned Rhinos). Look them over and notice the details.
See how big they are? That’s how big they are.
It’s hard to realize their size in the photo until you compare them with the doors. Or, here’s a perspective from the clay model (click the photo to enlarge). Compare the size of the head, the foot, the forearm, the ribs.
When you visit in person, you can see and feel the artist's success in reproducing these royal ladies, right down to the fuzzy tips of their ears and tail … other than these tufts and the fluttering eyelashes, their skin is hair free, and smooth as a baby’s … well, in truth, a little lotion might not hurt.
These two Ivy league rhinos are queens
Two life-size Indian Rhinoceros statues guard the doors to the School of Cellular and Molecular Biology.
Why It's Interesting
The statues of Bessie and Vickie were sculpted by Katherine Lane Weems, a Boston native who began her artistic career in the first half of the 20th century. Back then women were often barred from art schools and thought to lack the strength and stamina to sculpt big works. Ms. Weems distinguished herself by focusing on statues of animals. Bessie and Vickie are named after Queens Victoria and Elizabeth and were unveiled on May 12, 1937, the coronation day of King George VI.
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