Object type



Cock Escaping from Reynard


Joseph Crawhall


Glasgow Boys

Place Associated

Britain, England, Hampshire, Brockenhurst (place made)


circa 1896


watercolour on paper


overall: 171 mm x 149 mm


Tail feathers fly as a white cockerel just manages to escape from the jaws of Reynard the Fox. He flies out of reach, feet lifted up out of harm’s way. On his way to court, having been persuaded by Grimbert the Badger to attend, Reynard confesses his sins. He had only just promised to leave his sinful ways behind and read his psalms, attend church, fast, keep holy days and give alms, when he saw some hens and cockerels outside a convent. Reynard couldn’t help but try to catch a particularly fat looking male. Behind him the rotten, spaced out planks of wood suggest the lack of protection offered to the birds. Beyond can be seen a pond with farm buildings on the far bank.

This watercolour is one of ten illustrations Crawhall made of the medieval fable of Reynard the Fox for Glasgow textile manufacturer Thomas Glen Arthur. Based on William Caxton’s 1481 edition, they narrate the tricks that the wiley Reynard plays on unsuspecting individuals within the animal kingdom. The series demonstrates Crawhall’s talent for illustration and animal characterisation. They were made at Brockenhurst where Crawhall was staying with his sister following the death of his father. The financial uncertainty around this time perhaps explains the unusual commission, as illustrative work was not his natural preference.

The drawings were sold to art dealer William Bell Paterson of 5 Bond Street, London who sold them to Paisley thread maker, William Allen Coats, another Crawhall collector. Coats gave Paterson permission to print and publish a limited edition of two hundred copies which were sold at ten guineas each. They then passed to Thomas Heywood Coats of Nitshill and Major John A. Coats of Dundonald in 1926 or 1927. Burrell acquired the set for £336 (for set of ten) from the T. H. Coats and Major J. A. Coats’ sale at Christie’s in London on 12 April 1935 (lot 8) through Reid & Lefevre.

Credit Line/Donor

Gifted by Sir William and Lady Burrell to the City of Glasgow, 1944


Burrell Collection: Pictures [Oils, Pastels and Watercolours]

ID Number



Burrell Collection

Related Objects

Related Natural History

Related People

Related Media