Enter Victorian taxidermist Walter Potter's fantasy world of rabbit schoolchildren, cigar-smoking squirrels and exemplary feline etiquette at the kittens' tea party...
Walter Potter (1835-1918), a country taxidermist of no great expertise, became famous as an icon of Victorian whimsy. His tiny museum in Bramber, Sussex, was crammed full of multi-legged kittens, two-headed lambs and a bewildering assortment of curios.
Closed in the '70s, the museum was variously re-established before being auctioned off in 2003. It was reported that a 1M bid by Damien Hirst to keep the collection intact was refused, but in 2010 many of Potter's key pieces were exhibited by the artist Sir Peter Blake at London's 'Museum of Everything', attracting over 30,000 visitors in 6 weeks. The subsequent dispersal of Potter's works has meant the loss of a truly unique Victorian legacy. Here, perhaps for the last time, the collection is preserved and celebrated with new photographs of Potter's best-loved works.
This handsomely photographed guide to Victorian taxidermist Walter Potter's stuffed animal tableaux is a delight.... A fascinating story, sumptuously illustrated by detailed photographs of the tableaux: taxidermy experts Dr Pat Morris and Joanna Ebenstein have brought the weird and wonderful world of Walter Potter alive for a whole new generation. - The Observer
Beautiful new photographs... nothing short of stunning. - Bizarre Magazine
Nostalgically enjoying new book on Walter Potter's weird taxidermy. Museum was part of my childhood. - Derren Brown's Twitter feed (1.7M followers)
Potter [had] instant celebrity status among his peers and a cult status that lives on... At once macabre and inexplicably compelling. It's little wonder his present-day fans include Peter Blake, Damien Hirst and David Bailey. - House & Garden
Dr Pat Morris, who is the greatest authority in Britain on historical taxidermy and owns at least one Potter masterpiece, mourns the loss of this unique ensemble. His meticulously researched text, together with Joanna Ebenstein's pellucid photographs and details, give it a worthy memorial. - Country Life
Walter Potter s Curious World of Taxidermy is one of the most important books I ve read on Victorian taxidermy in months. It s like Jude the Obscure, but with squirrels. - The New York Times
PAT MORRIS was Senior Lecturer in Zoology at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is a DEFRA inspector for assessing the age and authenticity of antique taxidermy and has self-published seven illustrated books. His vast personal collection includes The Death & Burial of Cock Robin, Potter's largest and most important piece.
JOANNA EBENSTEIN, a New York-based artist, curator, blogger and graphic designer, runs the Morbid Anatomy Library.