Searching for a Moose

July 7, 2015

Among the strangest things I encountered during a works on paper inventory in 2005 was a very elegant, poster-style drawing of a moose, by John Sloan. It looked like a newspaper illustration, but it is a far cry from the clever puzzles and elegant ladies at the seaside that Sloan usually illustrated for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Press in this style. I have wondered for years about what kind of article this accompanied, but the drawing didn’t have a date or inscription to give me a clue.


A Bull Moose, 1894 John Sloan (1871–1951) Ink and graphite on bristol board, composition: 11 1/4 × 8 3/4 in. sheet: 12 1/8 × 9 11/16 in. (30.8 × 24.6 cm) Gift of Helen Farr Sloan. © Delaware Art Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

As part of our current inventory and collections database update, I have been researching Sloan’s illustrations, and I finally found it! The drawing illustrated Why the Moose is Passing Away by Thomas Martindale, in the Philadelphia Inquirer on November 25, 1894. A sentence from the article: “In a recent trip to the haunts of the moose, in Maine, I was wonderfully impressed with the extent and magnitude of the annual hunt for the bull moose, for no one cares to kill a cow moose.” (It is basically a conservationist argument against the “moose mania” of sportsmen). I wonder if Sloan’s is the only poster-style moose ever drawn.


The Moose You Didn’t Shoot, not dated Artist unknown Graphite on paper, sheet: 10 × 6 15/16 in. Details of acquisition not known.

Now if I could only find some information, any information, on this other moose drawing in the collection. Inscribed “the moose you didn’t shoot,” the work is unsigned, undated, and unattributed.


Heather Campbell Coyle
Curator of American Art

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