Original ‘Jungle Book’ Illustration Goes on Display at Rudyard Kipling’s Historic Estate

The watercolour was created by the Detmold brothers when they were still teenagers.

The Return of the Buffalo Herd hung on the wall at Bateman's, East Sussex. Photo: National Trust Images: James Dobson.

A rare watercolor illustration from The Jungle Book, painted by a pair of precocious siblings, is now on display at Rudyard Kipling’s family home, 130 years after the publication of his timeless story.

The painting depicts a post-climactic scene: Rama, the great bull, overlooks a plain where the body of the villainous tiger Shere Khan lies, trampled to death by a stampede of buffalo led by the tale’s young protagonist, Mowgli.

The Return of the Buffalo Herd is one of four watercolors remaining from an original set of 16 painted by the Detmold brothers at the turn of the 20th century. Edward Julis Detmold, who signed the painting with his monogram “EJD”, and his twin brother Charles “Maurice” Detmold were prolific book illustrators of the time. Born in 1883, they began their prodigious art careers in their early teens. At the age of 13, they were the youngest people to exhibit watercolors at the Royal Academy. They were only 18 years old when they were commissioned to illustrate The Jungle Book.

Sadly, the twins lived troubled personal lives. Maurice died by suicide at 25 years old. He left a note which read “This is not the end of a life. I have expressed through my physical means all that they are capable of expressing, and I am about to lay them aside.” Edward followed a similar path almost 50 years later when, depressed after losing sight in one eye, he too died by suicide.


A sketch of Edward Julius Detmold by his brother Maurice. Photo: National Portrait Gallery London

The painting is being displayed at Bateman’s, Kipling’s home in Burwash, Sussex, now owned by the National Trust. Speaking on the artwork, Hannah Miles, Collections and House Manager at Bateman’s, said, “comparisons could be drawn between the Detmold twins and Mowgli, who in the original story of The Jungle Book was a rather troubled character trapped between two worlds.”

“It feels poignant therefore to display their magnificent illustration alongside a copy of the book featuring all of the twins’ original pictures, in the place that meant so much to the story’s author Rudyard Kipling.”


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