With the "Durham Ox", Day has been considered one of the greatest livestock promoters of all time and helped establish Shorthorn breed standards.
1761-1815 | Artist: Thomas Weaver (1774-1843) Painting dated 1811
Impact & Accomplishments
This painting is not only the smallest in the collection, at 24-by-19-inches, it is also the oldest, painted by Shropshire artist, Thomas Weaver, more than two centuries ago. The subject was arguably the greatest livestock promoter of his time—John Day from Lincolnshire, England—who purchased the massive castrated bull, Favourite, from breeder Charles Colling in 1801.
Renaming the animal the “Durham Ox,” Day commissioned the construction of a custom carriage, to be pulled by four horses, and he proceeded to tour the ox to fairs and other events throughout England and Scotland for six years. Day also published engravings of the animal that became popular prints at the time, building a Durham Ox legend and helping establish Shorthorn breed standards.
Did You Know?
A dedication accompanying a 1802 painting of the ox by John Boultbee (1753–1812) gave details of the animal's measurements and estimated its weight as 171stone (1,086 kg), but later estimates ran as high as 270 stone (1,715 kg), although there may be some confusion, as the stone was not a standardised weight at the time. Whilst his size and weight partially account for the admiration he attracted, he was also regarded as a particularly fine and well-proportioned example of his type, at a time when the concept of selective breeding for specific characteristics was becoming established in agriculture.
The "Durham Ox"