Have you ever heard of Walter Potter? Probably not. Walter Potter was alive from 1835 – 1918. He was an amateur taxidermist and his works of art were displayed at the Bramber Museum. Many locals and also tourists would travel to the Bramber Museum in the United Kingdom to see the works of Walter Potter. What makes his art so special? You’ll just have to read below to see examples of his creative taxidermy art.
This is a kitten with two bodies. They are fused together at the head, and they have 2 tails along with a total of 6 legs underneath.
The two-headed kitten was born this way. It had a total of 4 eyes, but only lived for 7 days. Wendy Watts from the Jamaica Inn had this piece on display and added the yellow tape.
This piece of art is titled ‘Monkey Riding A Goat’. Pretty creative. Both of these animals met an untimely end, before they were handed over to Walter Potter. The monkey was an escaped pet who died of shock when a bucket of cold water was thrown on him. The goat lived in a park but frequently escaped.
These next few pictures are of the Rabbit’s Village School. He originally wanted a total of 50 rabbits for this piece, but was only able to get 48. He made do with what he had.
Walter Potter managed to make all of the furniture and accessories himself. However when it came to the clothes, he enlisted the help of his wife, Ann. What a good sport. Even the inkwells that you see on the desks were carved from chalk.
Another collection that Walter Potter created was The Death & Burial of Cock Robin which he built in 1961. There is a poem called “Who Killed Cock Robin?”, and that is what this collection is based off of. In the collection, all characters from the poem are present.
The Death & Burial of Cock Robin took Walter Potter seven years to build. It contains almost 100 birds, and even some of them are crying with glass tears in their eyes. There are four species that he included that are now considered either extinct or extremely rare. They are the Red Backed Shrike, Cirl Bunting, Wryneck, and Hawfinch.
Of course you can’t forget his work of art called The Kittens’ Tea & Croquet Party. He created this in the late 1800s.
The next collection is called The Kittens’ Wedding and was created in 1890. In this collection, there are 20 kittens wearing magnificent suits and dresses, complete with knickers! Potter had one of his neighbors help with the dresses, along with his daughter, Minnie. This was the last collection made by Potter and the only one where the animals were all dressed.
The Kittens’ Wedding was one of the most popular exhibits by Walter Potter. It even was lent out to other Museums such as the Victoria and Albert Museum along with the Liverpool Museum.
In this picture, the kitten bride is wearing a veil and is carrying flowers as she waits for her kitten groom. If you look closely, you can see the ring on the kitten bride’s finger.
You may wonder where Walter Potter found all of these deceased animals. The birds were often brought in by visitors who may have found them dead already. Typically they were found around telephone wires or were killed by cat. The cats came from a farm near Henfield. At this farm, cats were able to roam freely. But in the 1800s, spaying and neutering animals wasn’t a common practice. They would typically keep one of the kittens, then destroy the rest. The owners of the Henfield farm then donated these kittens to Potter.
This group of rowdy looking rats is better known as The Lower Five. In this piece, Potter has made it so the rats appear to be on the verge of getting raided by the police, while they are playing a game of dominoes where there is money at stake.
This group of squirrels is better known as The Upper Ten and was created in 1880. This is the classier version of the two groups, as you can see the squirrels are nice and plump, and also have a servant bringing them drinks and champagne.
In this picture, you’ll see a couple of visitors at the Bramber Museum taking a look at Walter Potter’s creations.
A new book by historian of taxidermy Dr Pat Morris and New York-based artist and curator Joanna Ebenstein seeks to preserve and celebrate the now-dispersed collection with new photographs of his best-loved works. You can get the book by clicking here.
Is this a museum that you would like to visit? I think it would be interesting to see in person, but I don’t know if it’d be anything I’d brag too much about.