John James Audubon (1785-1851) was an acclaimed American ornithologist, naturalist, writer and artist. His extensive work illustrating American birds culminated in his color-plate book The Birds of America (1827-1839), containing 435 life-sized watercolors of North American birds, reproduced from hand-engraved plates. This iconic work was originally printed on handmade paper 39.5” tall by 28.5” wide, in 4 volumes, complete with 5 volumes of his related field notes.

Audubon’s illustrations demonstrated a life-like mastery of his subjects that remains unrivaled today. Exploring America’s wilderness, he worked by observing birds in nature, then drawing from dead specimens that he would kill himself using fine shot. He developed a wire armature system to hold his specimens in natural positions, distinguishing his studies from the stiff renderings of his contemporaries. He captured bird’s physical features with incredible accuracy while adding evocative elements of their natural environments, elevating his work beyond scientific study to fine art.

Audubon’s body of work set a high standard for later ornithological endeavors, and greatly influenced the natural history field. Through the course of his life Audubon studied and illustrated nearly 500 American bird species and discovered 25 new species and 12 new subspecies.

_________________________________________________________________

Here is a sample from Audubon’s The Birds of America.

Audubon Blue Jay
Blue Jay

_________________________________________________________________

Audubon-American-Flamingo
American Flamingo

_________________________________________________________________

Audubon-Carolina-Parrot
Carolina Parrot

_________________________________________________________________

Audubon-Great-Horned-Owl
Great Horned Owl

_________________________________________________________________

Audubon-American-Sparrow-Hawk
American Sparrow Hawk

_________________________________________________________________

Audubon-snowy-heron
Snowy Heron

_________________________________________________________________

Audubon-Black-billed-Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo

_________________________________________________________________

Audubon-golden-eagle
Golden Eagle

_________________________________________________________________

The Audubon Society provides a gallery of free high-resolution downloads of Audubon’s treasured works.

Further Reading:

John James Audubon 

John James Audubon: America’s Rare Bird 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here