Johann Wenzel Peter was an Austrian artist known for his animal paintings that appear in the Vatican Museums and frescos on the walls of the Galleria Borghese. It seems that he loved to paint ... birds! His speciality was turkeys, so we had to feature one of his paintings today!
Turkeys are large birds native to North America and now are the obvious symbol of Thanksgiving; their story in Europe is also interesting. In the 1500s, Spanish traders brought some of these birds that had been domesticated by Indigenous Americans to Europe and Asia. The bird reportedly got its common name because it reached European tables through shipping routes that passed through Turkey. On a continent where fine dining still included eating storks, herons, and bustards, the meaty, succulent turkey was a sensation.
In 1829 when Peter painted these turkeys they weren't a sensation anymore. I believe that the artist just liked them.
P.S. Do you know how to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey? Here's a recipe based on famous artworks!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
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