The newest addition to the Anniston Museum of Natural History’s Zig Zag hall is the Dorothy Doughty bird collection. This collection of ceramic birds is celebrated for its accurate proportions and stunning color. Dorothy Doughty was born in San Remo, Italy in 1892. As the daughter of two artists, Dorothy learned from a young age to embrace creativity. While studying at the Eastbourne School of Art in England, Dorothy developed a passion for ornithology (the study of birds). At the prompting of her sister, Dorothy began learning to craft from clay.
After picking a bird to sculpt, Dorothy would make numerous study sketches from the live birds she kept in her aviary. She spent countless hours perfecting her models before she sent them to the Royal Worcester craftsmen to be completed. It sometimes took as many as twenty models to create one piece, which had to be assembled from individual parts. Once the piece had gone through the firing stage, it emerged as unglazed porcelain. The piece was then glazed and hand painted to ensure accuracy. For the paint to last, it had to be enamel. It sometimes took several layers of paint to produce an accurate-to-nature result.
Even while WWII raged in Europe, Dorothy continued her craft. A pair of Parula Warblers, crafted by Dorothy, was gifted to President Dwight D. Eisenhower by Queen Elizabeth. Yet another testament to Dorothy’s capability as an artist is the fact that pieces shrank while in the firing stage meaning her models had to be scaled up in order to be accurate after firing was done. Her level of artistry and dedication is evident in every piece, down to the minute details of the bird’s surroundings.
This temporary exhibit is made possible by Stan Ingram, who sought to highlight Dorothy’s capabilities as an artist and to honor his late mother, an avid collector of the Doughty Birds. Mrs. Ingram would no doubt be delighted to know that her interesting, beautiful collection of true-to-life birds now has a home at the Anniston Museum of Natural History.