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[Perspectives] They died as they walked

Edwin Landseer’s Man Proposes, God Disposes, first shown in 1864, now hangs in the Picture Gallery at Royal Holloway, University of London. Against a sublime and stormy Arctic landscape two monstrous polar bears root through the wreckage of an expedition, one of them devouring a human ribcage. Student folklore claims the picture has driven viewers mad, and when exams are held in the Picture Gallery it is covered with a Union Jack.