Portrait of an ornithologist.


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SKU: 12547 SCHILDERIJ/ Pernau, Ferdinand Adam von (?) Categories: , Tags: ,

Portrait of an ornithologist, most probably Ferdinand Adam von Pernau, 1660-1731. Oil on canvas, 92 x 74 cm. On stretcher frame in multiple profiled gilt wooden frame moulding, 103.5 x 85 cm. Varnish slightly darkened, hardly any damage, in good overall condition. The ornithologist looks confidently at the viewer, dressed in a red silk coat with gold braid and fur collar. Beside him are two leather volumes with gold spines and spine labels “Pars I” and “Pars II” of his ornithological research work, on them sits a yellowhammer. A redwing has probably settled down on the little finger of his left hand All this could indicate that the sitter is the Austrian nobleman Ferdinand Adam Freiherr von Pernau (1660-1731), who was a privy councilor in Coburg and devoted himself to ornithology. In his bird research, he laid important foundations for the scientific identification, measurement, cartography and systematic classification of birds and is considered the founder of scientifically conducted biological bird research. The bluethroat, the mountain finch and the redwing, among others, owe their names to Pernau. In 1720 he published his main ornithological work, the “Angenehme Land-Lust! Which can be enjoyed innocently in towns and in the countryside, without any special costs. […]Together with a Clear Explanation of the Objections made against the Time-Drift, also Necessary Notes on Hervieux of Canary Birds/ and Aitinger of Bird Setting” (Nissen, IVB, 153). It is not only in his publication that Pernau concealed himself by publishing it anonymously, which only became noticeable in the 20th century (by the zoologist Erwin Stresemann, who first paid tribute to Pernau). No portrait of the author has come down to us either. Nor does the picture presumably depicting Pernau show a name on the spine titles of the books. If this is indeed Pernau, it is the only known portrait of the ornithologist.