Help us bring Victorian eccentric taxidermist Walter Potter’s iconic Kittens’ Wedding tableau to New York!
About this project
Video by Filmmaker in Residence Ronni Thomas
Walter Potter was a self-trained British Victorian country taxidermist best remembered for a series of anthropomorphic tableaux in which he posed stuffed animals such as kittens, rabbits and squirrels as if engaging in human activities. These works were exhibited for nearly 150 years until the museum he founded was divided at auction in 2003. The pieces then moved the homes of private collectors around the world, most of them never shown since.
Perhaps the most unforgettable of all of Potter’s works is his final tableau, The Kittens’ Wedding, completed in the 1890s. Equal parts perverse and adorable, and utterly spellbinding, The Kittens’ Wedding transcends kitsch through its tenderness and sensitive attention to detail.
The Morbid Anatomy Museum has secured the permission of the new owner of The Kittens’ Wedding, Mrs. Sabrina N. Hansen, to exhibit it—along with other never shown in the US Potter pieces such as Monkey on Goat and a family of Albino Rats—in an exhibition set to run at The Morbid Anatomy Museum from September 1 – November 6, 2016 and curated by J. D Powe and John Whiteknight.
The Kittens’ Wedding is the kind of perfect object that truly must be seen to be believed. We are incredibly lucky in that it is owned by a collector in our community, who has agreed to loan it so long as we can pay for safe and professional transportation and insurance.
If you, like we, long to spend time with this incredible piece, please consider contributing to this campaign which will allow us to share the magic of Kitten Wedding with its admirers!
To sweeten the deal, a number of collectors–including proud owners of Walter Potter pieces!–have kindly offered to open their homes and share their incredible collections as special awards for those who support this campaign:
Dr Pat Morris, co-author of Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy and holder of the largest collection of Potter pieces and ephemera including The Death and Burial of Cock Robin, A Friend in Need is a Friend Indeed, an eight legged kitten, and Potter’s pet cat and dog as well as taxidermy by Hermann Ploucquet whose work shown at the Great Exhibition in 1851 may have inspired the young Walter Potter.
Errol Fuller‘s (author of Voodoo Salon) collection featuring Walter Potter’s Athletic Toads, his only mechanized tableau; Fencing mice with mole undertakers by Hermann Plouquet (above; circa 1850); a passenger pigeon; a Charles Waterton Saki Monkey “deformed to look like a little hairy man” (circa 1825); Hummingbirds by George Ashmead (circa 1850); and more. (Near London, England)
Have a peek at a true Victorian Obsession! John Whitenight (author of Under Glass: A Victorian Obsession) and Fred LaValley invite you for a tour of their collection of extraordinary 19th century taxidermy including Potter’s Monkey and Goat, along with rare French automatons (one that smokes a cigarette!), plus period rooms containing an array of Victorian furniture and decorative objects all of which are contained in a circa 1865 Philadelphia townhouse. For the donation of $1000 a tour of this incredible collection featured in Victorian Homes, The Magazine Antiques and several documentaries. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Carol Holzer’s collection, featuring Walter Potter’s two-faced kitten, a taxidermied lion, and many more pieces of taxidermy and sundry curiosities. (Chicago, Illinois)
A private tour of Cranfield’s Curiosity Cabinet, featuring Potter’s rabbit with tusks and case of 3 robins (Leigh on Sea, Essex)
J. D. Powe Collection, a private taxidermy collection of epic proportions by the curator ofTaxidermy: Art, Science and Immortality. (Patterson, New York)
Please note: These pieces of taxidermy were made in the 19th century before the spaying and neutering of animals was common practice, and when animal control and abatement was carried out in ways we recognize as antiquated today.
Risks and challenges
The owners of these one-of-a-kind pieces of Walter Potter Taxidermy have very kindly offered to loan us their objects, so long as we can cover insurance and professional transportation. Our creative director co-authored and did photography for a book on Walter Potter (Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy, with Dr Pat Morris, 2013). This put her in touch with many of the collectors who currently own his pieces, a number of whom have kindly agreed to either loan their pieces or open up their homes as awards.