Man Eaters of Tsavo, 2002
oil on belgian linen
50 x 80 in
(127h x 203.2w cm)
It seems hard to believe that these two lions killed and devoured, in a most demonic manner, nearly one hundred and forty people in East Africa, bringing a complete halt to the construction of the British railway. For nearly a year they terrorized Tsavo and become a major concern for the British Prime Minister. These famous lions achieved legendary status with President Theodore Roosevelt stating, “I think that the incident of the Uganda man-eating lions is the most remarkable account of which we have any record.
During my research on these infamous beasts, I began to realize the mountain of challenges I was about to face. I was setting out to paint lions that lived over a century ago, with no direct reference. The hides that represent the mounted forms at the Field Museum in Chicago were in poor condition. I then decided to focus on the spirit of the lions and represent the two characteristics that made them so feared. One represents the aggressive, brutal nature of their attacks. The other was how they often, quite arrogantly and with little concern, consumed their victims within sight and sound, of the others and later returned to finish off the scraps. The dramatic story of the Tsavo Lion’s remains the most remarkable man-eating saga in history.