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9th Sep 2019
Thomas E Gunn taxidermy case Otter with Fish in Naturalistic setting estimate 300 400

Seven works by a Victorian taxidermist from Norwich who is widely regarded as the finest practitioner of his art who ever lived are to go under the hammer later this month in a Norfolk auction house.

Thomas E. Gunn was born in Lakenham in 1844, and before he was 40 had gained a reputation as the finest taxidermist in the world, running his business from St Giles Street in Norwich until his death in 1923.

Now seven cases of his work are to be sold at Keys Auctioneers and Valuers in Aylsham, as part of a 300 lot Ornithological and Natural History Sale on Friday 20th October.  This will be the seventh year that Keys have run the specialist sale, which is now regarded as one of the most important of its type in the country.

Also in the sale are pictures by renowned Norfolk wildlife artists John Harrison (1898-1985) and Sir Peter Scott (1909-1989), as well as a rare watercolour by Norfolk wildlife photographer Richard Richardson (1922-1977).

“In the days before wildlife documentaries on television, and before people had the means to enjoy the extensive habitats we have in this region, taxidermy was an important way of showing wildlife to a wider audience,” explained Oscar Crocker of Keys.

“There is a rich heritage of Victorian taxidermy, and here in East Anglia we had a number of world-leading practitioners, including Lowne of Great Yarmouth and Lockwood of Fakenham.  But the undisputed master was T.E.Gunn of Norwich, whose cases remain hugely in demand today.

“Although taxidermy is not to everyone’s taste, good quality examples have as much artistic merit as other forms of wildlife art.  In its day, taxidermy was also an important way of educating the wider population about wildlife and the natural world.”

T.E.Gunn cases on sale in the auction include an otter, a crested grebe, pheasants, a grey parrot and an albino dove, as well as three fallow deer heads.

Important pictures going under the hammer at the same sale include an oil painting ‘A pair of teal over Fritton Lake’ by Sir Peter Scott, which has a pre-sale estimate of £3,500-£4,000, and a watercolour by John Harrison ‘Merlin and Golden Plover’ (estimate £1,600-£1,800).

The Keys Ornithological and Natural History Sale takes place on Friday 20th October at Keys Aylsham salerooms, and simultaneously online at www.the-saleroom.com.  Full details of all 304 lots are available to download at www’keysauctions.co.uk.