The unscientific exotic bird man. Aert Schouman, (1710 – 1792). Peruse 18th century paintings of parrots from Guyana and North Brazil by a man from the Netherlands.

Self portrait, c. 1730. Aert Schouman.

Ridiculously prolific & versatile, the 18th-century Dutch Republic painter from Dordrecht, Aert Schouman (1710 – 1792) was a glass engraver, printmaker, art teacher & collector/dealer.

Schouman did it all; still lifes, biblical & mythological themes, genre, historical and topographical works, portraits, sketches, etchings & mezzotints. He designed tapestries, painted wall-hangings and decorative objects such as fans and snuffboxes. He even designed and painted the glass windows of magic lanterns. 

From out of all of all those those endless and complex biblical scenes, mythic tangents & dreamy, bucolic landscapes there’s one thing that just pops out and says “hi” to us today. His graphic natural history studies of exotic bird life – especially the heads, the portraits.

Aert was no scientist, but he was knew his exotic birds in detail & was deeply devoted to renering authenitic, true-to-life depictions of them.

In his portraits of parrots, Schouman has captured and seems to project to us, each bird’s personality.

Head of a Macaw, Aert Schouman, 1725-1792.
Head of a Cockatoo, Aert Schouman, 1725-1792.
Head of a Cockatoo, Aert Schouman, 1725-1792.
Head of a Cockatoo, Aert Schouman, 1725-1792.

King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa), Aert Schouman, 1725-1792.
Two exotic birds, Aert Schouman, 1725-1792.
Red billed Toucan, Aert Schouman, 1725-1792.
You can see Schouman’s keen powers of observation showcased here by the way he’s drawn this red-billed toucan grasping the branch. He may not be a scientist but he knows the Red billed Toucan.

They have two, rather than three toes like other species. The landscape he paints airily in transparent shades of green and blue evokes the bird’s native regions in Guyana and North Brazil.

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