Buffalo Bill and *Muson
Originally published June 2019
My sister Sharon once participated in a "team building" exercise in which you were to describe yourself in one word. It's a very interesting exercise. Especially when I applied this question to myself. The word that came immediately to me is "curious".
Which is the only explanation for the fact that this morning, when I had plenty of other much more legitimate tasks to attend to, I found myself deep down the "internet research rabbit hole".
The journey started out as my attempt to explain Paul Wooldridge's satirical references regarding "Davenport Arabians" in my blog post Paul Woodridge One Man's Opinion. My search for images of Davenport Arabians came up with this riveting image of Buffalo Bill Cody on "Muson".
This image shows up many times on an internet search and I'm not exactly sure who to credit with the one above. If anyone reading this blog has that information, I'd love to include a credit.
During the search I ended up not only wondering how Buffalo Bill Cody came to be riding *Muson, but also how Cody ended up posing for the French artist Rosa Bonheur! Bonheur is probably the most famous female painter of the 19th century and her best know work is undoubtedly The Horse Fair, on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Horse Fair (1855) by Rosa Bonheur
Apparently both Cody and Davenport knew the importance of good promotions and PR! It turns out that Homer Davenport loaned *Muson to Cody during his 1907 performances at Madison Square Garden. The collaboration was a huge success for both Cody (who ended up being invited to France to have this portrait painted by Rosa Bonheur) and for the reputation of Arabian horses in America! The painting by Bonheur is part of the collection of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West collection.
My curious mind wants to know more about the friendship between Davenport and Cody and how often *Muson was used for public events. So the search goes on.
If anyone is interested in a very good article about Davenport's trip to the desert, check out this link by Jane Waldron Grutz.