Victorian taxidermy- South American birds by Kirk of Glasgow

£ 1100

Circa 1895. Very faintly Inscribed to the back board inside the case “Charles Kirk Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow” one of Scotland’s largest and best-known Victorian taxidermists.
A wall mounted picture frame case with, two Hummingbirds, A Green-rumped Parrotlet (Forpus passerines) A Red-Legged Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes cyaneus) a Swallow tailed and smaller butterfly artistically set against a oil painted scenic back drop, so typical of Kirk’s work.

44cm x 34cm.

Ref: 24505

The following is an extract taken from “A History of British Taxidermy” by C. Frost:
“The business built up by Charles Kirk (1872-1922) became one of the largest and best known of its kind in Scotland. Charles Kirk was born and educated in Edinburgh, and left home to take up an apprenticeship with Rowland Ward in London. He left Wards in 1894 in order to set up his own business in Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, eventually employing a staff of around eight. He was an intelligent and articulate man with a high reputation as a field naturalist and photographer. His bird photographs were reproduced in numerous publications. His photographs of birds in flight were regarded as unique in their day. Kirk was by all accounts a great enthusiast about all aspects of his profession. A visit to his shop was an uplifting experience. He died suddenly in 1922 at the age of just 50, having just moved to larger premises.
Not surprisingly, Rowland Wards influence is strongly evident in all of Kirk’s work, for he would have doubtless trained his own staff in the manner he had himself been trained. All of the firms work I have seen has been of top quality. Charles Kirk was closely connected with the Glasgow Natural History Society, and he exhibited cases of rare or interesting birds at many of their meetings”.

The following is an extract from Kirk’s obituary, published in the Glasgow Herald on 22nd April 1922:
“The genius inherent in the man was powerfully demonstrated on several occasions. As an exponent of the art of taxidermy his fame was established, and examples of his superb work adorn many public and private collections both at home and abroad. Accuracy of detail and setting was one of the many outstanding features pertaining to all Mr Kirk’s work, particularly with regard to groups of birds reproduced in their natural surroundings. In this class of work he was undoubtedly peerless, and by the critic and connoisseur was regarded as a veritable Rembrandt of his profession”.
Fine words indeed. It’s also interesting to note that this is the only example of exotic birds that I have seen by this firm, needless to say most of the specimens Kirk stuffed were of Scottish decent. The exotic birds found here in the case we are selling are usually found in cases by the London taxidermists where there was easier access to the bird markets that were supplying the millinery trade in the Victorian times. As is quite often the case, now over a hundred years later we can only speculate where they were acquired or by whom they were commissioned for, but one thing is for sure they would have at one time hung on the wall of a parlour in some grand house and been much admired.