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'photographic pictures of living ferae naturae, in their native jungle or forest…
represent the perfect specimen for our contemplation.' In other words, such
photographs represented the taxidermist's goal of re-creating the life-like forms of
animals within their habitat. To this end, Ward recommended the making of
'instantaneous photographs of animals and objects in motion', going on to develop
his own 'Naturalists' Camera' for the purpose (Ward 1882: vi).
Ward's guides on preserving hunting trophies were followed by many hunters
and taxidermists who employed photography as a means of rendering the modelling
of animal forms more naturalistic. Indeed, by 1911 Ward could declare:
[T]he taxidermist could never have reached his present advanced stage without
the aid of instantaneous photography…. Previous to the invention of the
instantaneous camera I used to have to go to the 'Zoo' and model an animal
in wax before I could mount its skin to my satisfaction.
(Ward 1911:22)
Using photography, Ward developed his own 'artistic setting-up' of trophies and
specimens whereby, rather than being 'stuffed', the skin was preserved and
remounted on a model constructed from a substance of Ward's own invention,
incorporating limb bones and the skull. In achieving a greater attention to detail,
expression, gestures and habits, this 'Wardian taxidermy' (as it became known)
received considerable praise when examples of Ward's work were exhibited at various
international and colonial exhibitions (Ward 1911:139). Thus Ward used
photography—already itself an aetheticisation of the 'real'—as the basis for his
supposedly truthful modelling of animal gesture and expression. Yet, as most
products of taxidermy at this time showed, from mammals in cases with dried
grasses and silk leaves to Rowland Ward's rhino-head drinks cabinet, what mattered
was not so much accuracy as the naturalistic appearance within a domestic, and
domesticated, setting.
In this circulating process of the production of nature, then, taxidermists and
photographers drew on each other's codes and conventions in their constant staging
of animal life. Just as taxidermists like Ward modelled animals from hunters'
photographs, hunters like Dawnay took photographs of remodelled lion heads as a
memento of the sight of living wild animals. Hunters like Selous often shot
particular animals and preserved their skins in order to see them subsequently
resurrected in realistic displays in, for example, the British Museum (Selous 1893a:
90-91). In 1907 the big-game hunter and photographer Carl Schillings (1907, Vol.
1: viii) noted the pleasure to be gained by the European hunter 'when, making a tour
of the museums of various places at home, he sees awakened to new life the wild
creatures he formerly observed and laid low in far-off lands'. To many hunters, the
space of the metropolitan museum thus replicated the space of the colonial frontier.
Natural history museums could themselves even become hunting grounds. During
his travels 'with gun and camera' in Southern Africa in 1890, the hunter and friend
of Selous, H.Anderson Bryden photographed 'several natural specimens' in the
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