People interested in the philosophy of taxidermy – they are not numerous, though some are found in natural history museums – have long found two impediments to their thoughts. The first is that taxidermists, though often eloquent about their own work, are seldom sagacious. The second is that the literature of the subject is never well illustrated. The best modern book on taxidermy known to me is Melissa Milgrom’s Still Life, cleverly put together from interviews with people who practise in the field – correction: who are practised in cutting up dead animals that used to be in fields. But Milgrom’s useful survey contains no illustrations whatsoever.
Yet what is taxidermy if it does not give us something to look at, in a museum or more often a home? It’s essentially a form of indoor decoration. You wouldn’t put a stuffed animal on your lawn, would you? Or perhaps some squires do, for lovers of the taxidermist’s