Let me make something clear. I do not condone hunting for sport or any sort of animal cruelty just so I can have a pretty peacock on my mantle. I do however support ethical taxidermy. If an animal dies naturally, I see no problem in having it stuffed and put in my living room. In fact, after I die, I see no problem of myself being stuffed and put back in my own living room. I am so opposed to hunting that I think the hunters should be shot themselves. I liken hunters to child abusers. Wow! This is turning out to be a happy blog.
But this is a happy blog today, it is! I think taxidermy is actually animal appreciation. If you don’t believe me, let me tell you a little story. Once upon a time…
There is a shop in Paris called Deyrolle. It has been in the same building on the left bank of Paris since 1881 on one of my favorite streets, rue du Bac. Before that, the shop was on rue de la Monnaie in 1831. The owner, Émile Deyrolle was a French naturalist whose shop specialized in natural history publications and specimens, minerals, rocks, fossils, botanical specimens, shells, microscopic specimens and yes, taxidermy. The business was originally owned by his naturalist grandfather, Jean-Baptiste Deyrolle.
Deyrolle is an institution. Beloved. Revered. Respected. Cherished. This is a mythical taxidermy shop for animal lovers, quite the opposite of “hunters.” This intriguing shop has held dear memories for its clientele for generations in the past and for generations to come. But all of that was nearly lost one fateful evening in February of 2008 when the shop caught fire. To all of Paris, it was as if the Louvre had caught fire. 90% of the shop was destroyed. The animals had suffered a second death.
But, as in life there is beauty, so there is also in death. What became of this awful catastrophe was something beautiful. A photographer, by the name of Laurent Bochet, was granted permission to photograph the ruins. His book, titled, 1000°C, is one of my favorite books in the whole wide world. It is currently sold out on the Assouline Publishing website (Probably thanks to me. You’re welcome) but it is still available through Amazon HERE. It is a remarkable book capturing the soul of Deyrolle that makes your heart swoon and hopefully opens one’s eyes to the beauty of taxidermy. With the help of fellow Deyrolle lovers from interior designers, museums, luxury brands (Hermès created a scarf in honor of Deyrolle named Plumes to raise funds), loyal customers, well-wishers to European royalty, the shop has been completely restored and the magic continues The end.
That’s my story. So let’s all just take a deep breath and relax about taxidermy. Ethical taxidermy, that is, so don’t get your knickers in a twist. Years ago, I had a beautiful taxidermy white peacock at my antique shop. I named her Ursula. Every day when I would open the shop, I would walk in the store and say, “Bonjour, Ursula.” She was a regal bird that reigned over our shop and my heart. I wish I had never sold her because I think she would be very happy here with me in Paris. If you want to, let’s take a look at some interior design with taxidermy. If you don’t want to, don’t, it’s a free world.
photo by Wendy Jenson
On a little side note, check out this video of an exhibit in Paris with artist Billie Achilleos in collaboration with Louis Vuitton and Deyrolle HERE.