Walter Potter (1835-1918), a British country taxidermist of no great expertise, built anthropomorphic taxidermy tableaux that became famous icons of Victorian whimsy, including his masterpiece The Death & Burial of Cock Robin . Read more...
Walter Potter (1835-1918), a British country taxidermist of no great expertise, built anthropomorphic taxidermy tableaux that became famous icons of Victorian whimsy, including his masterpiece The Death & Burial of Cock Robin. His tiny museum in Bramber, Sussex, was crammed full of multi-legged kittens, two-headed lambs, and a bewildering assortment of curios. Potter's inspired and beguiling tableaux found many fans in the contemporary art world: it was reported that a 1M bid by Damien Hirst to keep the collection intact was refused when the museum finally closed. Here, perhaps for the last time, many important pieces from the collection are showcased and celebrated with new photographs of Potter's best-loved works. Darkly witty and affecting, Walter Potter's Curious World of Taxidermy makes a charming, whimsical (and yes, slightly morbid) gift.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-05-12
- Reviewer: Staff
Biologist Morris (A History of Taxidermy) and Ebenstein, Morbid Anatomy blogger, deliver an engaging if macabre catalog of the oeuvre of Walter Potter (1835-1918), Victorian master of the art of taxidermy. A celebrity in the art of taxidermy during its peak popularity, Potter taught himself to preserve lifeless animals at a young age, posing them in dioramas for his sister's amusement. His best known piece, "Death & Burial of Cock Robin", features close to 100 stuffed birds. The bulk of the catalog focuses on the process of preservation with details on how to skin toads, as well as his sideshow of freaks including a rabbit with tusks. Like embalmed Beanie Babies, he arranged squirrels and rats in scenarios that illustrate lyrics of his day and shed light on everyday life in Dickensian England. Long after his death the museum moved to Cornwall, and recently Bonham's auctioned off the contents to collectors around the world. Soft-hearted readers may be relieved to find that most of the animals died of natural causes or, at any rate, were not destined to live long. Both whimsical and informative, this bizarrely intriguing catalog revives an outdated Victorian art form to spark the interests of modern audiences. Color photos. (Apr.)