The Victorians could be a very macabre lot, as can be evidenced by their popular obsession with taxidermised animals. Such animals were often mounted in realistic poses, like a fox and rabbit in a natural setting, engaged in fighting behaviour. However the more bizarre anthropomorphic style of taxidermy, featured animals performing more human activities, like a group of kittens and mice having a tea party.
Would You Care For Tea
Taxidermy in one form or another, seems to go far back in history. The Egyptians in mummifying their cats were performing a form of taxidermy and in the Middle Ages, taxidermy really took off as a way to preserve natural wonders and oddities. Curiosity cabinets from this period, have revealed such taxidermised marvels as: albino animals, crocodiles, animals with extra heads and all types of exotic creatures brought back by numerous explorers and travellers to new lands.
Frozen In Time
The taxidermy of the Victorian era was however, more life-like then ever before, due to the use of mounts and the creation of glass eyes. Imagine such collections however, decorating Victorian homes, which were often more like dark and brooding museums, with bizarre collections of taxidermy decorating the cold and often sunless rooms of the period.
Aristocrats seemed to a harbour an especial fascination for taxidermy and the walls of castles and great houses were often groaning with moose heads, the heads of tigers, other game or exotic animals.
The Great Exhibition
The Great Exhibition of 1851, featured various displays of taxidermy. Queen Victoria, who visited the exhibition, wrote in her diaries that the exhibits were "really marvellous." These displays included stuffed frogs, hedgehogs ice-skating and six kittens under a window serenading a piglet. The large crowds attending these exhibits, made it necessary to employ extra police to control the enthralled hordes.
Times Have Changed
Today we tend to view animals differently to the Victorians and as a result, not many homes you enter in this day and age are likely to feature exhibits of tiger heads and almost extinct stuffed birds. Personally I am glad, as I would find such taxidermised animal displays nightmare inducing!
Crazy Taxidermy Museum
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