A Collection of the Weird & Macabre
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A Collection of the Weird & Macabre

Many weird, whacky and morbid things came out of England’s Victorian era, but perhaps none fit that bill better than the anthropomorphic taxidermy craze. In London, during the great exhibition of 1851, German taxidermist Hermann Ploucquet showcased a collection of animal carcasses arranged and clothed like human beings. The display included things like a group of six dead kittens arranged around a table playing poker. 

Whacky Taxidermy

Believe it or not, Ploucquet’s pieces became a massive hit, garnering comment from Queen Victoria herself–she called them “really marvelous.” Other artists found inspiration to follow in Ploucquet’s footsteps, spawning a real cultural phenomenon. Most notably, Englishman Walter Potter became so inspired he taught himself taxidermy, ultimately creating an unholy collection of animals stuffed and posed as humans, dwarfing even Ploucquet’s. This Victorian craze, like any other, eventually lost its momentum, but luckily for us, pictures of these monstrosities remain! Enjoy this list of the weirdest anthropomorphic taxidermy the Victorian era had to offer. 

Walter Potter’s Kitten Tea Party 

Made in the Late 19th century by self-taught English taxidermist Walter Potter, this piece of around 20 dead kittens is totally cute, heartwarming and not dark at all. Where did Walter source all his dead kittens from, you ask? Nobody knows, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t all dead when he found them. 

Hermann Plocquet’s Longtail Teaching the Young Rabbits Arithmetic

Plocquet's Comical Creatures of Wurtenburg

Plocquet’s book, The Comical Creatures of Wurtenburg, was published shortly after his strong showing at the great exhibition in 1851. This piece depicts a schoolteacher beating a student for misbehavior. I’m sure hitting children with sticks was more palatable at the time, but corporal punishment depicted using dead rodents exudes a dark aura.

King Edward’s Bear Butler

King Edward Bear Butler.

When he was still just the prince of Wales, King Edward the 7th killed this bear in Russia in self-defense. He then had it mounted as a waiter carrying a tray of champagne by an unknown taxidermist. This is the only piece on our list I would consider keeping. It’s a shame it has since disappeared from its home at Marlborough House in London. This picture was found in an 1891 edition of The Strand Magazine ,entitled “Animal Furniture,” and contains numerous pictures of big-game animals turned into chairs and the like. I won’t bore you with all of them right now, but if you’re into that kind of thing…

Walter Potter’s Athletic Toads

Walter Potter Athletic Toads

Another Walter Potter piece depicts a set of toads performing various exercises and acrobatics. These amphibians may not tug at the heartstrings the same way kittens do, but this piece is still strikingly unnatural as they come. On a side note, exercise for health was a new phenomenon in the Victorian era, so it took them a while to figure out exactly what the hell they should be doing. See if you recognize any of the exercises these frogs are doing because I sure don’t. 

The WTF Manimals

Kate Clark Manimals.

Believe it or not, a small community of modern artists has rekindled the artistic flame lit by Ploucquet in the 19th century. For instance, New York-based sculptor and taxidermist Kate Clark made whatever these are. I can’t tell you with any certainty what the future of taxidermy holds, but I’d be willing to bet the weirdest is yet to come.

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Source link: https://www.athlonoutdoors.com/article/whacky-taxidermy/ by Sullivan Cauley at www.athlonoutdoors.com