Charged by a Buffalo
About the work
Interpretation about this artwork is under review
The Government Art Collection recognises its responsibility to artists, colleagues and all our audiences to represent the diversity of the UK and to embed anti-racist and equitable practices throughout our work. We are taking action to address inequality in the Collection and its interpretation.
Henry Bailey illustrated and wrote ‘Travel and Adventures in the Congo Free State...’ (1894) under the ‘nom de plume’ Bula N’Zau, meaning elephant smasher, a title given to him by the locals. Much of the book is dedicated to his hunting excursions. One of the illustrations is engraved after this painting, which shows Bailey trying to avoid the attack of a wounded buffalo. In the publication it is titled ‘Hitting me slightly on my right hip’ and is accompanied by a detailed account of the incident:
‘… I waited until he was within two or three yards, relying on my nerve and straight shooting to drop him in his tracks. In this I failed, the bullet hitting him on his tough thick horn, an inch or so from where I intended. I had just time to jump on one side, and bend myself nearly double as he dashed past, hitting me slightly on my right hip in doing so... My fox-terrier... as he turned to charge the second time, sprung for the enraged beast, fixing him by the neck. Not getting a good hold, he, as the bull swung his head round to butt him, seized him by the nose... [and] was sent flying into the air. I thought that the plucky little fellow’s hour had come; but he landed on the ground without any harm…’
About the artist
Little is known of explorer and amateur artist Henry Bailey. From 1884 to 1888, he travelled through the Congo Free States. Some of the paintings Bailey made during these travels were reproduced as engravings in his recollection of the trip ‘Travel and Adventures in the Congo Free State and its Big Game Shooting’. He wrote the book under the ‘nom de plume’ or pen name Bula N’Zau, meaning elephant smasher; a title given to him by the locals. A watercolour by Henry Bailey, showing farm labourers tending a field of cabbages, is in the collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. In 2003, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. purchased a collection of sketches, photographs and a map, relating to his travels through the Congo.
Henry Bailey ( - 1907)
- Charged by a Buffalo
- Oil on panel
- height: 17.50 cm, width: 25.00 cm
- Purchased from Charles J Sawyer, July 1973
- BL: H. Bailey VERSO: Charged by a Buffalo / 'Touch & go' / H P Bailey 1887. Long Island Stanley Pool
- GAC number