Sword-fighting frogs and Dickens

Two stuffed frogs with "human attitudes" battle it out in a work by a Parisian taxidermist, Leyoudec on the National Geographic website

Stuffed frogs with ‘human attitudes’ battle it out in a work by a Parisian taxidermist on the National Geographic website

I’m sitting in a cosy cottage in Hampshire having tea after walking around Hambledon and the Bat and Ball, a mecca for cricket lovers. It’s also Jane Austen country, home to that inveterate baseball player. What do I come across online but the above photograph of sword-fencing stuffed frogs that are on display at Maison Mantin, a house in France that has been shut up since 1911.

Now, on the wall of the cottage is an old print ‘The Empty Chair. 9 June 1870’ by Sir Samuel Luke Fildes. Fildes, one of the great illustrators of his day, made the image as a tribute to Charles Dickens, who had just died, and it appeared in The Graphic shortly after. Here’s a print of ‘The Empty Chair’:

dickens_empty_chair660

And what is there on the top of the desk to the left – two frogs having a sword fight! Anybody know what that’s all about?

dickens_1880_frogs.jpg

>>A History of British Magazine Design by Anthony Quinn (May 2016)

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