Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"The Brading Collection of Taxidermy, Waxworks, Costume and Similar Items," Duke's Auction House, Dorset, April 13th (Today!)

From the outside, it's an unremarkable industrial warehouse, home to Duke's Auction House. But the stench of turpentine marks it out from the other buildings on the Grove Industrial Estate in Dorchester, Dorset. It's the first clue that inside lurks a haven of Victorian taxidermy.

Step in, and you'll see a Bengali tiger on its hind legs, 8ft tall, lunging claws-first (and canines first) towards you. Behind him is a peacock, glorious tail splayed behind it.

To the right are three zebras, a camel, baby rhinoceros and seven lions, the lioness twisted on the ground, sinking her incisors into a bloodied antelope. All in all, there are 250 animals, many of which are the treasures of an eccentric 19th-century professor and explorer.

Elsewhere are grotesque figures: shrunken monkey heads on spikes, Siamese lambs conjoined at the head, a velvet coffin with the body of a 16-year-old Congolese boy (complete with an elephant's head stitched to his corpse), and dozens of glass-eyed waxworks with liver- spotted skin or daggers plunging into their chests.

Oh, and a blue dress once worn by Princess Diana.
Today's auction--marking the dispersal of the Brading Experience, a former museum on the Isle of Wight in England and handled by Duke's auction house in Dorset--will also include scores of waxworks featured at the museum for decades, among them "a waxwork of a whitehaired tramp wearing loose fitting rags" and "a half-length waxwork of a torso with a knife plunged into his chest," not to mention the epic taxidermy you see above, and much, much more.

The above quote and images are from the Daily Mail, which featured a well-illustrated article about the auction; You can read the full article--"Yetis, unicorns and even flying kittens: Inside the worlds zaniest zoo"--by clicking here. You can view the entire catalog of sale items--prepare to be astounded!--here. You can find out more about Duke's auction house by clicking here.

Wish I lived in England right now...

P.S. If this topic interests you, then you won't want to miss tonight's lecture by Robert Marbury at the Coney Island Museum, entitled "A Rogue’s Approach to Stuffing It: Taxidermy in Contemporary Pop, Art and Sub-Cultures" at 7:00 PM! Click here for details.


k said...

wow. When I was a girl scout, our troop spent a night at the Museum of Natural History in New York. We got to go into all the back rooms and giant freezers where they store all the taxidermy animals. I have vivid memories of that sleepover—might be the reason I appreciate achieving and preserving animals so much. I got to hold a 120 yr old fetus that was premature and died from a brain tumor. It was awesome.

Dianne said...

I DO Live in England right now, but don't know how to get involved. I want that kitten!

holly aka golly said...

I would love to see these specimens up close. I wish I lived nearby.

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful! I love it! So exquisite!

eole said...

i am french student in art and i work at this time on taxidermy animals mix with human in plastics and i like very mutch your work

eole (sorry for my english )

Amanda's Autopsies said...

The auction guide, has some photos:

Unknown said...


Anonymous said...

I used to live on the Isle of Wight as a kid, seeing all that awesome stuff being dispersed makes me sad

I could have had the shrunken heads in my shop!! LOL!

if only i had been quicker off the mark there, dorchester is only down the road from me ! bah!

The Master said...

I too am a resident of the Isle of Wight. Brading Waxworks had a wonderfully bizarre collection of oddities. It is very sad to see it go.

Amanda's Autopsies said...

Brading Museums' auction photos

HH said...

I think taxidermy is ever evolving and I believe that some abstract work is nothing more than struggling art but I believe that as sad as it is to see such great collection fall apart, we are opening our eyes to contemporary work. For example work by Dutch artists 'The Idiots' is extraordinary, especially their piece 'Ophelia'. And Claire Morgan. Have a look at these artists, turly inspirational.