Perhaps the oldest surviving piece of taxidermy is found in a church in Ponte Nossa, Italy, where a stuffed crocodile, dating from the 1530s, hangs from the ceiling. The oldest known piece of bird taxidermy is that of the Duchess of Richmond's pet parrot from 1702.Taxidermy has gone out of fashion, worshiped and reviled, and has symbolized both the best and the worst of man's thirst for knowledge and his tendency to ruthless exploitation. It has its place in history, but it has evolved into a modern art form, a means of self-expression and a respectful tribute to the beauty of the natural world. Below, we highlight 11 important pieces in the field.
It is believed that the oldest stuffed bird in existence is an African gray parrot that belonged to Frances Stuart, the Duchess of Richmond and lover of King Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland (1649 - 168). The bird, which she liked inordinately, can still be seen in the Westminster Abbey Museum in London, perched next to a life-size wax effigy of the Duchess herself. She asked that the bird be preserved after its death; it died first, in 1702, and the parrot soon after. Crocodiles aside, the fact that so few primitive specimens have survived is proof that taxidermists did not master their art.
There are only a few venerable exceptions from around 1600 onwards, in particular favorite horses or dogs. The prize-winning steed of the Swedish king Gustav Adolphus is one such example. Shot below it in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, in 1632, during the Thirty Years' War, it suffered the indignity of being skinned, mounted and displayed as a war trophy by the German opposition. He has a reputation for neighing when war is imminent, it is last heard in 1939 and can still be seen in the city's museum.
Charles Waterton, who wrote Waterton's Wanderings in South America, one of the most successful travel books of the 19th century, was a master taxidermist who developed his own method of preserving hides with mercury chloride. Famously eccentric (he used to bite the legs of dinner guests and pretend to be a dog), he used his taxidermy to provoke and provoke. After traveling to Guyana (Guyana) in 1824, he claimed to have hunted a new species that resembled a man. Experts now believe that his Indescribable was actually molded out of the hindquarters of a howler monkey.
Taxidermy has come a long way since ancient Egypt, and has evolved into a form of art and science to better preserve and understand animals. There is a montage of a rhinoceros in a museum in Italy that is said to be the oldest montage in the history of taxidermy. It is believed that the assembly took place in the 16th century. The conservation techniques were good enough that the rhinoceros assembly is still in good shape.
Throughout his long career, he worked for several different museums, including the Field Museum, where he served as chief taxidermists from 1896 to 1909.Many prominent Americans, such as the famous painter Charles Wilson Peale and the famous military leader George Armstrong Custer, were enthusiastic taxidermists. Two ocelots, one by a taxidermist from the 19th century and the other from 1934 (courtesy of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin). After the creation of the Lion and Tiger exhibition, a prominent French taxidermist named Jules Verieaux set up another group of animals, albeit with a different design. After the restoration of peace in Europe after 1815, Britain witnessed the Museum's continued growth in status, as naturalists and taxidermists discovered that the public had the time and inclination to devote themselves to such collections.
Gradually, taxidermists also began using dermestid beetles to clean the flesh of corpses when creating European mounts (skull mounts), skeleton mounts, or necessary skeletal parts to create a trophy mount or life-size replica. When an 18th-century taxidermist tried to shape the skin of the dead lion of King Frederick I of Sweden, a gift from 1731 from Algiers, was probably based on some of these images. Some of the first taxidermists were also challenged to recreate realistic representations when they had never seen the wild animal in the wild before. Early museums showed taxidermy in serrated rows for comparative morphology purposes, but as the 19th century drew to a close, taxidermists were increasingly interested in recreating precise habitats.
Taxidermists relied on second-hand, or even third-hand, accounts of the living anatomy of creatures reduced to dry skin, resulting in some tremendously imprecise specimens. Taxidermists began working with anthropologists and other experts to determine what a species should look like. Carl Akeley, one of the most famous taxidermists in the United States, sought to educate with innovative and realistic representations, shown in panoramic dioramas that replicated the natural environment. Many later taxidermists, whose work was among the most advanced exhibited, could attribute their careers to Ward's Establishment, and many current museums have exhibition collections built around these early Ward specimens.
This was the first time taxidermists could share their methods with each other and learn new ones that improved the final results. The stigma associated with owning taxidermy has gone hand in hand with a new understanding that contemporary taxidermy is clearly green; much of this is due to the work of artist and taxidermist Polly Morgan, who first captured the spirit of the time. At the end of the 19th century, British taxidermists established the Rowland Ward study, which was established in London; the people who worked there are credited with many improved methods in taxidermy. .