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Carl Ethan Akeley

 (1864 - 1926)
Carl Ethan Akeley was active/lived in New York.  Carl Akeley is known for wild animal sculpture, panoramas.

Carl Ethan Akeley

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Carl Ethan Akeley
The following information is from Gene Meier, an art historian from Illinois who specializes in 19th and early 20th century artists who did panoramas, dioramas, and cycloramas. Taxidermy is a part of this study.

Carl Akeley was a taxidermist and sculptor and photographer.  Carl Akeley is talked about BY EVERYONE. He was the father of modern taxidermy. At one point Akeley worked as taxidermist for the Milwaukee Public Museum, which in the 1880s was across the street from William Wehner's panorama studio.

There is a legend that Akeley learned about creating dioramic backgrounds for his taxidermic works from visiting panoramas, especially the two in Milwaukee that were next to one another--Wehner/Heine & Lohr, and Kindt & Gardner ("BATTLE OF VICKSBURG")

He also served as taxidermist for the Field Museum in Chicago, where in 1902, his studies of a family of red deer through the seasons was installed. The installation was begun at Akeley's DeKalb, Illinois taxidermy studio 1892-1893 and continued from 1894 on in his Hyde Park studio.

The background was painted by panorama artist Charles A. Corwin,

The Carl Akeley FOUR SEASONS OF THE VIRGINIA DEER natural history panorama  is featured on youtube. According to this video, Carl and Delia spent four years collecting specimens of the Virginia/white tail deer in Michigan at different times of the year: spring, summer, fall, and winter.

Biography from the Archives of askART
Innovative as a taxidermist and photographer, Carl Akeley was also a skilled sculptor. His bronze groups of animals are displayed throughout the American Museum of Natural History in New York where he was an associate curator in the Preparation and Mammology departments.

In 1921, Akeley traveled to the Virunga Mountains in the Belgian Congo for gorilla specimens for a diorama exhibit in the American Museum. When he killed the first gorilla, it was a defining moment as he looked into the eyes of a creature and recognized a species similar to humans. Subsequently he urged the Belgian government to create a permanent sanctuary for the mountain gorillas, and he became a key figure in establishing the Albert National Park in the Congo in 1925.

Akeley was a member of the National Sculpture Society and the Architectural League and in 1916, exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago. His work is in the West Side Unitarian Church in New York City and the American Natural History Museum in Washington DC.

He died in Kabale, Uganda on a mission to collect specimens for the Natural History Museum.

Christie's New York, Catalogue of 7-17-02
Peter Hastings Falk, Editor, Who's Who in American Art

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About  Carl Ethan Akeley

Born:  1864 - Clarendon, New York
Died:   1926 - Kabale, Uganda
Known for:  wild animal sculpture, panoramas

Essays referring to
Carl Ethan Akeley

San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915