The Victorian were passionate about whimsical fantasy and natural history so a “logical” result was anthropomorphic taxidermy. Death fascinated the Victorians and rituals of expressing grief adhered to stringent rules that were often implemented on an outlandish scale. After Prince Albert’s death in 1861, Queen Victoria’s period of mourning, which continued until her own death, actually inspired a lot of art. For example, they tired electroplating the dead to made ornaments from their body parts...gruesome stuff to our way of thinking. Taxidermy allowed (and still does) people to honor their pets by stuffing and mounting and preserving dead animals was also deemed important. Natural history was a popular interest for the upper classes.
|A modern example|
The world’s fair, The Great Exhibition in London in 1851, was designed by greenhouse engineer Sir Joseph Paxton. The building of iron and glass was made possible by recent inventions such as industrial steam engines and telegraphs. The exhibition housed 14,000 exhibitors and provided a platform for all nations to demonstrate their industrial progress. The most popular exhibit though was the anthropomorphic taxidermy tableaux created by Hermann Ploucquet, a German taxidermist for the Royal Museum in Stuttgart. Each diorama invited the viewer into a miniaturized world.
Ploucquet’s work dazzled the Queen and King as well as people like Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Lewis Carroll, Charlotte Bronte in addition to the six million other visitors. Ploucquet's dioramas mimicked the style of the fashionable paintings and sculptures of the day. Queen Victoria described them in her diary as “really marvelous.”
|A modern example of a chess set|
|Detail of the Bishops|
If you are interested in this subject course books are offered HERE.