What is De Toerako’s?

What is De Toerako's?

Hermann Schlegel (1804-1884) created ‘De Toerako’s’  with Gerard Frederick Westerman (1807-1890), one of the founders of the Royal Zoological Society, also known as Natura Artis Magistra, the oldest Amsterdam zoo in the Netherlands. 

The Toerako's is a rare publication

The Turacos or De Toerako's by Hermann Schlegel en Gerardus Frederik Westerman
De Toerako's by Hermann Schlegel en Gerardus Frederik Westerman

Published in 1860, the Dutch book ‘De Toerko’s’ [The Turakos] was commissioned by the society and was dedicated to its patron His Majesty the King – Willem III of the Netherlands.

It is widely regarded as one of the greatest bird books ever published but was an extremely rare publication, produced in a very limited number, and never for sale.

Instead, the book was presented to members of the society and to those within the field of zoological science whom the society felt deserved recognition. 

Produced in the large folio size (28.5 x 21 inches, 72.5 x 53 cm), the work depicts life-size illustrations of the beautiful Turacos, famed for their distinctive and colorful plumage, set within their lush natural habitat.

De Toerako's or The Turakos

Schlegel-De Toerako's. Musophaga Rossae. Giclee Print Ross's Turaco
Musophaga Rossae or Ross's Turaco
Schlegel-De Toerako's. Musophaga Leucolopha. Giclee Print White crested Turaco
Musophaga Leucolopha or White crested Turaco

Turacos, also called plantain-eaters and go-away-birds, are found only in sub-Sahara Africa. These exotic birds belong, like the cuckoos, to the order Cuculiformes, but they are assigned to a unique order (Musophagiformes).

To make the drawings, Schlegel used live specimens, that were present in the Amsterdam zoo. 

The book ‘De Toerako’s’  contains 25 pages with 17 color images drawn by Schlegel. Experts clearly see the influence of print artist John Wolf: “The plates suggests the work of Wolf”, with whom Schlegel collaborated for his publication ‘Traite de Fauconnerie’.

Teylers Museum

Taken from the original illustrations in the libraries of Teylers Museum in the Netherlands, the collection ‘De Toerako’s’  containes 17 prints after the hand-colored originals.