Though it has been around for ages, taxidermy became quite popular during the 19th century. At the time most people believed that humans were dominant over nature. Hunting and displaying animals as trophies were an extension of this mindset. With a growing middle class, better transportation and access to "the colonies" it was not unusual to find mounted animal heads, fur rugs and stuffed wild animals as decorations in middle class and wealthy homes of the era.
Two bizarre forms of taxidermy increased in popularity as well, during the Victorian era - anthropomorphic and rogue taxidermy. Walter Potter's work is an example of the anthropomorphic kind. Another example is Edward Hart who did a series of boxing squirrels.
The other kind - rogue taxidermy involves making animals that never existed like griffins, unicorns, flying cats etc. They were often showed in various traveling "freak shows" of the time.
So what do you think of this? Deplorable? Interesting? A product of it's time? Let me know.
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