19th C, Artful Diorama with full mount European Otter (Lutra lutra) characterised by a painted watercolour background and a highly realistic base made from papier-mache with dried vegetation and real pebbles.
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One of the pebbles in the right back corner is signed Peter Spicer & Sons. Spicer, Peter (1839–1935), taxidermist, was born in Jury Street, Warwick, on 28 October 1839, the son of John Spicer (1811–1866) and his wife, Emma, née Heynes.
In 1860 John Spicer had a shop at 33 Jury Street, Warwick, where the Victorian fancy for preserving dead animals in glass cases was starting to take off. John also went on to develop an interest in the relatively new invention of photography and captured realistic naturalist scenes to great effect. All these skills were taken to new heights by his son Peter, whose recreation of natural-looking montages of stuffed birds, stoats and pet dogs led on to him gaining a world-wide reputation for the art of taxidermy.
By the 1870s he had expanded to Leamington where at one stage he seems to have employed some 30 workers in the curing, preserving and preparing of feathers, fur and skin to be set in natural-looking scenes of dried moss, grasses and rocks often set against a hand-painted backdrop that was a work of art in its own right.Peter lived to the age of 96.He died in 1935, by which time his two sons, William, from his first wife Ann Ward, and Gilbert from his second wife Lavinia Williams, were both running the hugely successful business that had contracts from India and East Africa.
They continued to run the business until 1959. Peter Spicer & Sons was regarded as one of the greatest British taxidermist firms. He was a true naturalist with vision ,an artist and a totally competent taxidermist.The high quality of his work and acute attention to detail resulted in many high profile individuals, including royalty, buying his pieces. Bibliography :
-Very nice short documentary on Youtube Peter Spicer & Sons History of British Taxidermy Hardcover – 1 April 1987 by Christopher Frost -A Record of Spicers 1798-1960: History of a Famous Taxidermy Firm Peter Spicer and Sons of Royal Leamington Spa Hardcover – 1 Oct. 1901 by Robert James Chinnery - A History Of Taxidermy: Art, Science And Bad Taste by Pat Morris"