June 7, 2023

The knight and his monkeys

The knight and his monkeys

"A little bit of "potschert he was just "but smart", says professor klaus schonitzer in the most beautiful dialect about johann baptist ritter von spix, the rough son of the city of hochstadt. Schonitzer, today president of the friends of the zoological state collection munich, opened the exhibition "the knight and his monkeys" in the city tower.

The title of the exhibition may have made some readers smile, but the background is highly scientific. It's about the monkey specimens that ritter von spix brought back to munich from his trip to brazil two hundred years ago and that can still be admired today in the zoological state collection. As their former conservator, professor schonitzer is, so to speak, a successor to the knight of spix. According to herbert fiederling, chairman of the hochstadter spix-verein, he is "the expert who knows the most about spix weib", is therefore not surprising. Schonitzer also published the spix biography "a life for zoology" in 2011 published.

The 200. The jubilee – the brazil expedition lasted from 1817 to 1820 – was the occasion for the munich group of artists around barbara ruppel to portray the monkey specimens. Care has been taken to depict the monkeys with all their cracks and preparatory flaws. What can be admired in the stadtturm are the original drawings of the munich artists who created them on a voluntary basis. It was also easy to photograph the specimens. "But the artists have a completely different view of them", said professor schonitzer.

Art and science

"They are scientifically important and valuable works of art", emphasized herbert fiederling. At the opening of the exhibition he was able to welcome a large number of distinguished visitors. Among them was mayor gerald brehm (JL), who was full of praise for the excellent work of the volunteer team. "One notices that you do this with a lot of heart blood", he addressed fiederling.

"You have made me an honorary member, that is an obligation", professor schonitzer called out to his hochstadt friends. After presenting it in other places, schonitzer found "the exhibition is most beautiful in hochstadt". Despite the scientific facts, his introductory lecture was highly humorous and amusing.

After a short summary of the trip to brazil of the zoologist von spix and his companion martius, schonitzer went into detail about the exhibited paintings. There were many things to smile about. A "modern monkey species in which the father takes care of the children, the mother merely sucks the offspring. In one illustration, a baby ape is carried in the arms instead of on the back as is usual for apes.

"Primordial meters of their kind"

The specimens are sometimes very bizarre-looking specimens. This was due on the one hand to the ignorance of the animals at the time, and on the other hand to the way the animals were prepared. Spix had discovered many of the monkeys depicted and had published them in his "monkey book" scientifically described according to type and genre. They are "type specimens", in a way, they are the "original meters of their kind", become.


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