Henry F. Stone and his Durham ox, painting by Thomas Flintoff
Certainly ranking in the top ten most popular works of art in the Ballarat collection is the 1887 portrait of Maribyrnong butcher Henry Stone showing off his prize Durham ox, described by one primary school student as ‘the cow that swallowed a refrigerator’.
The Durham Ox is a recognised breed of short-horn cattle — English born artist Thomas Flintoff would have been familiar with them because the first specimen of the breed was a famous show animal that had been painted in the same ‘pose’ as the beast that appears here. Printed images of that famous Durham Ox were circulated widely long after the animal had died in the early years of the nineteenth century.
Thomas Flintoff came to the Ballarat goldfields from Texas in the early 1850s. He ran a studio in Ballarat that combined photography with portraits in oil up until 1872, when he moved to Melbourne, where this work was painted.