Item of the Month: April 2017

Turqoise-fronted amazon. Amazona aestiva (Linnaeus, 1758)
Length: 30 cm, TUZ 808528

This old mounted specimen of turquoise-fronted amazon may date back to the first days of the museum, which was then housed at the home of its first director, Professor Germann, and whose collection then also included live birds: a turquoise-fronted amazon, an Ara macaw, a cockatoo and a common crane. Professor Germann taught botany, zoology and mineralogy at the university and headed the Cabinet of Natural History, the museum’s predecessor. He was an enthusiast who sought to acquire new specimens for the Cabinet’s collections of birds and insects and was also a capable taxidermist.

Professor Gottfried Albrecht Germann (1773–1809), the first director of the museum
After the oil painting by Carl Christian Vogel von Vogelstein, 1808. Reproduction: UT Library

Muuseumi esimene direktor, professor Gottfried Albrecht Germann (1773–1809) Carl Christian Vogel von Vogelsteini õlimaali järgi 1808. aastal. Repro TÜ raamatukogu

The notable German portraitist Carl Christian Vogel von Vogelstein has painted Professor Germann at his home in Tartu with his favourite pet, the turquoise-fronted amazon, and several books on the desk in front of him. The artist has emphasized the Professor's special interest in ornithology – the open book in the Professor’s hand is the volume on birds of the German translation of Georges-Louis Leclerc's (Counte de Buffon) Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière, the foremost encyclopaedia of natural sciences of the time, and the Professor is looking at the bird on his forearm as if comparing it to the description in the book. 

The project is curated by Inge Kukk
The project is supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia