Monday, May 4, 2015

Sad Beauty and a Paris Preview

 Pater found this sweet little bird, claws tightly clenched around a twig which had obviously not provided enough security from a spring storm.
 Sad, but we nonetheless took the opportunity to look closely at the wonderfully intricate patterns of feathers and wings.
As best we can tell, the bird is/was a female Wilson's Warbler Thanks to my birder/naturalist friend Alison for identifying the bird as an Orange-Crowned Warbler. See her comment below.
 Faced with such ephemeral beauty, I understand the impulse to taxidermy, although I'm content enough with my photographs, which already feel a bit macabre.
Especially, these ones, taken later in the day, without the sun's benign illumination. Now, the little claws gripping seem particularly poignant. . . .
























I'll think of this little bird when I introduce my sister to Deyrolle's on Rue du Bac in Paris next week.  It's the oddest, most fascinating shop, dating from 1831, growing out of a family's interest in entomology, then extending to a Natural History collection including taxidermy of animals from all over the world, and used as a resource and inspiration by artists and scholars over the nearly two centuries since. After some years of decline, with several different owners, the company was rejuvenated by new owners in 2001. However, a huge fire in 2008 destroyed much of the historic entomological collection and there was concern that would be the end of this historic enterprise. But a grand show of support from a wide community ensured that the collection was rebuilt and Deyrolle's remains as an important piece of Parisian/French patrimoine. I'm so looking forward to visiting it again and watching my sister's eyes as she takes in the astonishing collection. . . Have you been? Would you go if you had the chance? Do click through and check out the shop's website -- it's a trip all on its own, really!

12 comments:

  1. Sad beauty, indeed. Taxidermy isn't something that particularly interests me - I will always remember (with just a faint shudder) the enormous stag head on the wall over the fireplace of my grandfather's cottage.
    Next week in Paris - what a lovely thought!! I am looking forward to your posts!

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    1. It's hard to imagine, now, answering a child's inevitable queries about such a taxidermied head on a wall, isn't it?
      I'll be in Paris on Saturday! And I will be doing my best to post. . .

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  2. Sorry for the little bird - but I admire that you can come so close to it.

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    1. It seemed she deserved to be admired, even in death. . .

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  3. I have walked past Deyrolle but not gone in. It would be interesting to visit. The little bird looks fragile and beautiful.

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    1. It's an astonishing shop -- weird and wonderful and more than a bit disturbing, really.

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  4. Deyrolle has long been a favourite stop but I find it somewhat altered since the 2008 fire.. less mysterious, but still a remarkable place. She will be enthralled.

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    1. I only discovered it after the fire, sadly. Lucky you to remember the older version.

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  5. Oh my! The Photos! So beautiful and so sad.

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  6. It's an Orange-crowned warbler--see the orange-brown stain on the crown. Their songs are common right now on Protection Island--a long sweet trill. So poignant those tightly clenched little feet. Once I did a taxidermy bird (in a long ago ornithology class). The amazing thing is how "just right" the skin has to sit-- every feather has to be in place, the stuffing has to mimic exactly the shape of the bird, or the feathers don't lie sleek and smooth. I am fascinated by Deyrolle's--I'll visit the site....and maybe the place itself in the fall. I hope you have a wonderful visit.

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    1. Thanks, Alison! Good to have a knowledgeable birder on hand. Paul's going to have a better look in Peterson when he gets back to the island, and we'll keep an ear and eye open for the live versions. And you'll be enthralled by Deyrolle's...

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