Taxidermy & Natural History

Taxidermy, the art of preparing, stuffing and mounting the skins of animals for display, has been practiced on many vertebrate species, including mammals, fish, reptiles, birds and amphibians for a long time.

The early taxidermy pioneers date back to the 18th century, although the golden age of animal conservation was largely during the Victorian era, in part a result of increasing interest in the natural world and travel further afield.


Raj angler nets the £1800 catch of day

24 March 2005

Wotton Auction Rooms, Wotton-Under-Edge, February 22-23, Buyer’s premium: 15 per cent ALL manner of exotic beasts and big game hunting trophies passed through the hands of the celebrated London taxidermists Rowland Ward in the late 19th/ early 20th century.

1661AR03C.jpg

Specialists rule Qianlong vase is ‘right’ and bid £5000

20 October 2004

A COUPLE of exotic sleepers swelled the tally at Lays Auctions (15% buyer's premium) September 23-24 sale which also boasted healthy prices for more home-grown fare such as Troika and Newlyn copper.

The up-and-down world of art in nature

09 September 2004

PLENTY of art and antiques on offer around the capital this month but the imaginative Mayfair tribal art specialists the Gordon Reece Gallery have come up with a different take on the decorative, with a selling exhibition they hold at 16 Clifford Street, London W1 until October 2.

1651LS02A.jpg

Provenance and craftsmanship overcome risk of overexposure

10 August 2004

AS its title suggests, the June 30 sale of scientific, medical and engineering works of art held by Christie’s South Kensington (19.5/12% buyer's premium) was something of a mixed bag. The 216-lot auction incorporated anything from 18th century microscopes and preserved amphibians to delft barbers’ bowls and scale models of locomotives.

1645AR02A.jpg

The up-to-date appeal of fossils

22 June 2004

FOSSILS, whose decorative qualities in either antique or contemporary settings, have made them a regular feature of Sotheby’s garden sales at Billingshurst, opened the May event with 100 lots. Although dealers have become interested in the genre (there are, for example, now stands selling natural history at Olympia), private buyers took the top offerings including the best seller, a detail of which is shown right.

Bears, mammoths and trilobites get enhanced

16 March 2004

NATURAL history auctions usually throw up some fascinating lots, from bugs in amber to fossilised fish, from meteorites to a range of precious and semi-precious rocks, and the January 11 sale held by I.M. Chait, in association with David Herskowitz, was no exception.

Bidders count the rising cost of love…

09 March 2004

BONHAMS Knightsbridge (17.5/10% buyer’s premium) Science and Marine outing on February 25 was hardly awash with blockbuster entries, but their disappointment at not selling John Gould’s cased display of humming birds (estimated to fetch £30,000-50,000 but bought in at £12,500 despite pre-sale collector interest) was somewhat allayed by the healthy bid placed for this Victorian octagonal double-cased shell Valentine (shown here).

Magic mushrooms bring bidding madness and a £480,000 bill…

21 May 2003

Illustrated with 117 detailed watercolours, an account of the different species of Agaric mushrooms growing in the Vienna region, complete with notes on their suitability for eating, was one of two mycological manuscripts in the natural history section of the Sotheby’s sale of May 7 (19.5/10% buyer's premium).

Cabinet of fish sells for £8900

08 April 2003

Auctioneer Neil Freeman said that he could not remember a high price for multiple cased fish during his 20 years’ experience in the market for antique piscatoria. This 5ft 10in by 4ft 11in (1.78 x 1.50m) cabinet was one of a pair containing 15 brown trout caught by the ninth Earl of Coventry during a fruitful fly-fishing holiday in Ireland in 1879.

Fruits of the earth yield top prices

08 October 2002

With the antiquities market suffering from high prices and criminal scandals and a shortage of good material, it is no real surprise that collectors have turned to natural, as opposed to man-made, artefacts of greater age and, arguably, equal beauty.

Only the shell is left...

23 September 2002

THIS 75 per cent-complete shell of the extinct South American mammal known as the Glypdodont, pictured right, will be the star attraction of a highly unusual single-owner collection of ornithological and palaeontological specimens being sold by the Moulins auctioneers Enchères Sadde on October 20.

Is this a growth market?

26 June 2002

One of the more curious sections of Sotheby’s sale at Billingshurst on 21-22 May was devoted to natural, rather than man-made statuary.

The Lady of the Seashells?

19 December 2001

Sold for £90,000 as part of the November 15 Natural History & Travel sale at Sotheby’s was an album of 162 conchological watercolours put together c.1764-82 by Mlle. J.C. Xavery, a miniaturist of Dutch descent and probably the sister of the flower and landscape painter Jacob Xavery, who was working in Paris around the same time.

Not a fisherman's friend...

23 April 2001

UK: Some fishermen claim that pike have an appetite for human flesh – the elderly members of a crown green bowling club in Warrington say this stuffed and mounted 201b monster has been responsible for several fatalities among their anoraked colleagues in recent years.

No amount of cooking rendered the Dodo palatable, just extinct...

05 March 2001

UK: THERE is a distinctly nervous look about the Dodo pictured here, as befits a creature staring extinction in the beak. This “Facsimile of [Roelandt] Savery’s picture of the Dodo in the Royal Gallery at Berlin” is a plate from H.E. Strickland & A.G. Melville’s The Dodo and its Kindred; or the History, Affinities and Osteology of the Dodo, Solitaire and other Extinct Birds of the islands Mauritius, Rodriguez and Bourbon.

The case of the disappearing fish

13 March 2000

UK: The factors which make for a desirable cased fish are four-fold: the case (bowfronts are most popular), the label of a good taxidermist such as Cooper, condition and (as the joker in the pack) the beast itself.

Going shell, going well

17 May 1999

UK: THOSE decorative pieces worked by amateurs using seashells have always come low down in the art world pecking order but of late their attractions have become more and more appreciated as seen when an Irish pair of shellwork botanical studies took £26,000 at Mallams, Oxford, on February 3.

Categories

News

Tags in this section