“I wish you wouldn’t keep hiding them in your bedroom. We’ll have the whole house overrun with hounds again.” The Thelwell Ponies ride again… I promised to feature more of Normal Thelwell’s illustrations. Here’s the next one, chosen simply because it made me laugh. Many of his illustrations can still elicit a chuckle, even if they’re dated and/or situational.
Taken from the first edition of “Riding Academy” in 1964, the entire book features his famous ponies. This particular print isn’t just funny, it also appeals to my sympathies. From what little I know about ‘proper British Fox hunts’, it’s a bunch of hunters on horses, a pack of hounds. Maybe a horn blowing, beaters making noise in the bushes. All designed to frighten one small fox (or more, not really clear on that) into running so the hounds can give chase, the hunters can follow the hounds, and some brave hunter can shoot the fox. I’ve read that the ‘winner’ is awarded the fox tail as a mark of respect.
You might have noticed… I’m on the fox’s side. I’ll be the first to admit my opinion is biased and uninformed. But the fox is still my favorite.
All that, just to explain why this art print appeals so much. As usual, Thelwell has a lot going on in a single image. The mother, hands on hips, who is tired of her house being invaded by the fox AND the hounds. And seen it happen at least one time too many. The little girl, bound and determined to save every fox (and probably every living creature) she possibly can. The pony, more than happy to help. And the fox, with a big big smile as it rides to safety in the arms of it’s rescuer.
At first glance, it’s a simple illustration, but there’s an awful lot of personality expressed in a single image.