Johann Friedrich Leu

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Illustration from "The Birds of Europe"
Illustration from "Taxidermy"

Johann Friedrich Leu (born October 29, 1808 in Augsburg , † December 18, 1882 there ) was a German taxidermist , zoologist and illustrator .


After an apprenticeship in the furrier trade, Leu went to France for six years to expand the professional knowledge he had learned from his father. After this training, he and his brother took over his father's “old-fashioned fur goods business” in Augsburg. On a trip to Italy in 1842 he studied natural science collections in particular. In 1846, Leu and like-minded people founded the Natural History Association in Augsburg, today's natural science association for Swabia . As a taxidermist, Leu was significantly involved in building up the scientific collection of this association, which at that time was still part of the Maximilian Museum in Augsburg. At the same time he carried out intensive scientific studies, which he collected in a volume of many volumes. In 1877 he suffered a stroke . Nevertheless he continued his work as a taxidermist and illustrator for a long time.


As a taxidermist, Leu created thousands of animal specimens , primarily for the Natural Science Museum in Augsburg, but also for other museums and private clients. At the same time he created a multi-volume guide to taxidermy .

As a zoologist, Leu created the basis for an encyclopedia of vertebrates . In 96 handwritten volumes, Leu describes birds , fish , amphibians , reptiles and mammals . All papers are clearly structured. They also contain references to contemporary literature and essential visual material. Leu made most of the illustrations himself.

In 1855 Leu published a report on the birds in the administrative districts of Swabia and Neuburg .

Leus meaning

Leu's talent as a taxidermist was an essential stimulus for the Natural History Museum in Augsburg. His preparations, first exhibited in the Maximilian Museum and later in the Natural Science Museum on the Obstmarkt, were in good condition until they were destroyed on the bombing night of 25/26. A crowd puller in February 1944. Alfred Brehm emphasized on the occasion of a visit to Augsburg in 1880 that on his numerous trips he had never seen a more beautiful collection of birds and such a lifelike position and grouping.

Leus's 96 folio volumes about vertebrates , 43 of them about the birds of Europe, are handwritten and richly illustrated unique items . The work has not yet been scientifically evaluated; apart from zoological and cultural-historical aspects, it is also a treasure trove on the subject of biodiversity .

As the first avifauna in Bavarian Swabia, Leu's report on the birds in the administrative district of Swabia and Neuburg is of essential importance for ornithological research.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Homepage of the Natural Science Association for Swabia