Tuesday, 14 October 2008

An elephant in the room?

Today the lovely Mrs. Blandings addressed the issue of taxidermy in interiors in her post, I'm Stuffed. Normally, a subject I prefer to stay away from. I know most don't get it, as was evident with the negative response Domino received for the Steven Sclaroff squirrel, which I not only respect, but am glad of the fact.

Taxidermy isn't for everyone, especially those who just regard it as a fad. Taxidermy, and the larger oeuvre of natural history, is for those who see or seek wonder. A wonder that is beyond ego and from a different age where curiosity and learning were encouraged.

Here, Victorian cases of birds, domed specimens, a crocodile and bracket fungus are used as sculpture.

A rare example of a Victorian penguin rug is used in lieu of a painting and the mounted horns are used to add depth to what would be an otherwise flat wall. The leopard cushions, a recycled 1930s coat, add life to a boring expanse of sand coloured upholstery.

In this scenario, Victorian cases are used in the same way pictures could be used. Ethographic items, skulls, and preserved specimens are used as sculpture.

Compare and contrast the two examples below. One is superb and of museum quality, while the other is merely good. As with everything, the finer examples are harder to find and undoubtedly are much more costly. Truth be told most find even the merely good to be more than they wish to spend. Hence, the proliferation of not only mediocre examples but also of 20th century examples masquerading as Victorian. The Internet is positively littered with them.

Now playing: La Lupe - Puro Teatro (Pure Theater)
via FoxyTunes


Pigtown-Design said...

These, I don't mind. There's an artistry to them. I am just not wild about loads of trophy heads lining walls. There was a waterfront bar that we used to slum at, and their walls were lined with dead heads. It was called Dead Eye Bar. It would give me the willies going in there. Of course, that could have been the smell and the clientele.

The House of Beauty and Culture said...

P-D - sounds like it could be fun, hell a few tequila slammers and anywhere could be fun...

Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

Great post. As a serious gardener, I am (de facto) interested in natural history. And as an Anglophile, I am a fan of taxidermy and displaying one's collections.

Two books that define the look are Stephen Calloway's "Obsessions" and Caroline Clifton-Mogg's "A Passion for Collecting."

They've taught me how to combine seedpods, bird's nests, African sculpture, Asian pottery and textiles of all kinds. I want to live in rooms that are about more than a good wall color and nice furniture placement. It's all about the mix, passion and personality.

Simple Answer said...

Found you through Tobi et al. And this was a really good day to find you!

First, this month's Instyle? Christian Louboutin's home has a stuffed boar - complete with crown and holding napkin rings - in his home. He bought it at a French auction house. I was in France last month, and taxidermy is everywhere! The lobby of my hotel had a stuffed fox. There was a total assortment of animals to be found at the flea market. I was in awe of how often you saw it. Still, I couldn't see putting one in my home.

Mrs. Blandings said...

I adore the way it looks - these are such a unique art form. Just like food, and shoes, I have to not think about it too much.

Cote de Texas said...

the boxes have always been my favorite - though I know nothing about them except how they look visually in a wonderful English manor home, filled with dusty old books and even dustier oil paintings, lumpy sofas with ill fitting slips and oriental rugs. wonderful!

The House of Beauty and Culture said...

Ms Wis - funny you mention those books, some of our thing are in them. Something I am particularly fond of, I mention it b/c you enjoy gardening, are plant specimens. I love the annotations made by the plant collector - it demonstrates such passion and love.

The House of Beauty and Culture said...

SA - isn't Tobi just the funniest?

There is even more in England and on the whole much better too.