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Main article: "Birds of America (book)
Plate from Birds of America, featuring the "ivory-billed woodpecker

With his wife's support, in 1826 at age 41, Audubon took his growing collection of work to England. He sailed from New Orleans to "Liverpool on the cotton hauling ship Delos, reaching England in the autumn of 1826 with his portfolio of over 300 drawings.[55] With letters of introduction to prominent Englishmen, Audubon gained their quick attention. "I have been received here in a manner not to be expected during my highest enthusiastic hopes."[56]

American flamingo, John J. Audubon, Brooklyn Museum
American crow - John J. Audubon, Brooklyn Museum

The British could not get enough of Audubon's images of backwoods America and its natural attractions. He met with great acceptance as he toured around England and Scotland, and was lionized as "the American woodsman." He raised enough money to begin publishing his "Birds of America. This monumental work consists of 435 hand-colored, life-size prints of 497 bird species, made from engraved copper plates of various sizes depending on the size of the image. They were printed on sheets measuring about 39 by 26 inches (660 mm).[57] The work contains slightly more than 700 North American bird species, of which some was based on specimens collected by fellow ornithologist "John Kirk Townsend on his journey across America with "Thomas Nuttall in 1834 as part of "Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth's second expedition across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.[58][59]

The pages were organized for artistic effect and contrasting interest, as if the reader were taking a visual tour. (Some critics thought he should have organized the plates in Linnaean order as befitting a "serious" ornithological treatise.)[60] The first and perhaps most famous plate was the wild turkey.

The cost of printing the entire work was $115,640 (over $2,000,000 today), paid for from advance subscriptions, exhibitions, oil painting commissions, and animal skins, which Audubon hunted and sold.[57] Audubon's great work was a remarkable accomplishment. It took more than 14 years of field observations and drawings, plus his single-handed management and promotion of the project to make it a success. A reviewer wrote,

All anxieties and fears which overshadowed his work in its beginning had passed away. The prophecies of kind but overprudent friends, who did not understand his self-sustaining energy, had proved untrue; the malicious hope of his enemies, for even the gentle lover of nature has enemies, had been disappointed; he had secured a commanding place in the respect and gratitude of men.[61]

Colorists applied each color in assembly-line fashion (over fifty were hired for the work).[62] The original edition was engraved in "aquatint by Robert "Havell, Jr., who took over the task after the first ten plates engraved by "W. H. Lizars were deemed inadequate. Known as the Double Elephant folio after its "double elephant paper size, it is often regarded as the greatest picture book ever produced and the finest aquatint work. By the 1830s, the aquatint process was largely superseded by "lithography.[63] A contemporary French critic wrote, "A magic power transported us into the forests which for so many years this man of genius has trod. Learned and ignorant alike were astonished at the spectacle...It is a real and palpable vision of the New World."[64]

Green heron - John J. Audubon, Brooklyn Museum

Audubon sold oil-painted copies of the drawings to make extra money and publicize the book. A potential publisher had his portrait painted by John Syme, who clothed the naturalist in frontier clothes. The portrait was hung at the entrance of his exhibitions, promoting his rustic image. (The painting is now held in the "White House art collection, and is not frequently displayed.).[65] The "New-York Historical Society holds all 435 of the preparatory watercolors for Birds of America. Lucy Audubon sold them to the society after her husband's death. All but 80 of the original copper plates were melted down when Lucy Audubon, desperate for money, sold them for scrap to the "Phelps Dodge Corporation.[66]

King "George IV was among the avid fans of Audubon and subscribed to support publication of the book. "London's "Royal Society recognized Audubon's achievement by electing him as a fellow. He was the second American to be elected after statesman "Benjamin Franklin. While in "Edinburgh to seek subscribers for the book, Audubon gave a demonstration of his method of supporting birds with wire at professor "Robert Jameson's "Wernerian Natural History Association. Student "Charles Darwin was in the audience. Audubon also visited the dissecting theatre of the anatomist "Robert Knox. Audubon was a hit in France as well, gaining the King and several of the nobility as subscribers.[67]

Birds of America became very popular during Europe's Romantic era.[68] Audubon's dramatic portraits of birds appealed to people in this period's fascination with natural history.[68][69][70]

Later career[edit]

Audubon, white "gyrfalcons

Audubon returned to America in 1829 to complete more drawings for his magnum opus. He also hunted animals and shipped the valued skins to British friends. He was reunited with his family. After settling business affairs, Lucy accompanied him back to England. Audubon found that during his absence, he had lost some subscribers due to the uneven quality of coloring of the plates. Others were in arrears in their payments. His engraver fixed the plates and Audubon reassured subscribers, but a few begged off. He responded, " 'The Birds of America' will then raise in value as much as they are now depreciated by certain fools and envious persons."[71] He was elected a Fellow of the "American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1830.[72]

He followed Birds of America with a sequel Ornithological Biographies. This was a collection of life histories of each species written with "Scottish ornithologist "William MacGillivray. The two books were printed separately to avoid a British law requiring copies of all publications with text to be deposited in Crown libraries, a huge financial burden for the self-published Audubon.[73] Both books were published between 1827 and 1839.

During the 1830s, Audubon continued making expeditions in North America. During a trip to "Key West, a companion wrote in a newspaper article, "Mr. Audubon is the most enthusiastic and indefatigable man I ever knew...Mr. Audubon was neither dispirited by heat, fatigue, or bad luck...he rose every morning at 3 o'clock and went out...until 1 o'clock." Then he would draw the rest of the day before returning to the field in the evening, a routine he kept up for weeks and months.[74] In the posthumously published book, The Life of John James Audubon, edited by his wife and derived primarily from his notes, Audubon related visiting the northeastern Florida coastal sugar plantation of John Joachim Bulow for Christmas 1831/early January 1832. It was started by his father and at 4,675 acres, was the largest in East Florida.[75] Bulow had a sugar mill built there under direction of a Scottish engineer, who accompanied Audubon on an excursion in the region. The mill was destroyed in 1836 in the "Seminole Wars. The plantation site is preserved today as the "Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park.[75]

In 1833, Audubon sailed north from Maine, accompanied by his son John, and five other young colleagues, to explore the "ornithology of "Labrador. On the return voyage, their ship Ripley made a stop at St. George's, "Newfoundland. There Audubon and his assistants documented 36 species of birds.[76]

Audubon painted some of his works while staying at the Key West house and gardens of Capt. John H. Geiger. This site was preserved as the "Audubon House and Tropical Gardens.[77]

Lucy Audubon c. 1870

In 1841, having finished the Ornithological Biographies, Audubon returned to the United States with his family. He bought an estate on the "Hudson River in northern Manhattan. (The roughly 20-acre estate came to be known as "Audubon Park in the 1860s when Audubon's widow began selling off parcels of the estate for the development of free-standing single family homes.).[78] Between 1840 and 1844, he published an "octavo edition of Birds of America, with 65 additional plates.[79] Printed in standard format to be more affordable than the oversize British edition, it earned $36,000 and was purchased by 1100 subscribers.[80] Audubon spent much time on "subscription gathering trips", drumming up sales of the octavo edition, as he hoped to leave his family a sizable income.[81]


Audubon made some excursions out West where he hoped to record Western species he had missed, but his health began to fail. In 1848, he manifested signs of senility or possibly "dementia from what is now called "Alzheimer's disease, his "noble mind in ruins."[82] He died at his family home in northern Manhattan on January 27, 1851. Audubon is buried in the graveyard at the "Church of the Intercession in the "Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum at 155th Street and Broadway in "Manhattan, near his home. An imposing monument in his honor was erected at the cemetery, which is now recognized as part of the "Heritage Rose District of NYC.[83]

Audubon's final work was on "mammals; he prepared the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America (Vol. 1 1846) in collaboration with his good friend "Rev John Bachman of "Charleston, South Carolina, who supplied much of the scientific text. His son, John Woodhouse Audubon, drew most of the plates. The work was completed by Audubon's sons and son-in-law, and the second volume was published posthumously in 1851.

Art and methods[edit]

Audubon, John James ~ bobwhite (Virginia partridge), painted 1825. Published as Plate 76, 1829

Audubon developed his own methods for drawing birds. First, he killed them using fine shot. He then used wires to prop them into a natural position, unlike the common method of many ornithologists, who prepared and stuffed the specimens into a rigid pose. When working on a major specimen like an eagle, he would spend up to four 15-hour days, preparing, studying, and drawing it.[84] His paintings of birds are set true-to-life in their natural habitat. He often portrayed them as if caught in motion, especially feeding or hunting. This was in stark contrast to the stiff representations of birds by his contemporaries, such as "Alexander Wilson. Audubon based his paintings on his extensive field observations.

Detail from the adjacent image

He worked primarily with watercolor early on. He added colored chalk or pastel to add softness to feathers, especially those of owls and herons.[85] He employed multiple layers of watercoloring, and sometimes used "gouache. All species were drawn life size which accounts for the contorted poses of the larger birds as Audubon strove to fit them within the page size. Smaller species were usually placed on branches with berries, fruit, and flowers. He used several birds in a drawing to present all views of anatomy and wings. Larger birds were often placed in their ground habitat or perching on stumps. At times, as with woodpeckers, he combined several species on one page to offer contrasting features. He frequently depicted the birds' nests and eggs, and occasionally natural predators, such as snakes. He usually illustrated male and female variations, and sometimes juveniles. In later drawings, Audubon used assistants to render the habitat for him. In addition to faithful renderings of anatomy, Audubon also employed carefully constructed composition, drama, and slightly exaggerated poses to achieve artistic as well as scientific effects.


J.J. Audubon in later years, c. 1850

Audubon's influence on ornithology and natural history was far reaching. Nearly all later ornithological works were inspired by his artistry and high standards. "Charles Darwin quoted Audubon three times in "On the Origin of Species and also in later works.[86] Despite some errors in field observations, he made a significant contribution to the understanding of bird anatomy and behavior through his field notes. Birds of America is still considered one of the greatest examples of book art. Audubon discovered 25 new species and 12 new subspecies.[87]

Audubon in fiction and poetry[edit]

Audubon is the subject of the 1969 book-length poem, "Audubon: A Vision" by "Robert Penn Warren.[90] "Stephen Vincent Benét, with his wife Rosemary Benét, included a poem about Audubon in the children's poetry book A Book of Americans.[91]

Audubon's 1833 trip to Labrador is the subject of the novel Creation by "Katherine Govier.[92] Audubon and his wife, Lucy, are the chief characters in the "June" section of the "Maureen Howard novel Big as Life: Three Tales for Spring.[93] In the novel Audubon's Watch, "John Gregory Brown explores a mysterious death that took place on a Louisiana plantation when Audubon worked there as a young man.[94]

Places named in his honor[edit]

"Clipper ship Audubon


Posthumous collections[edit]

The standard "author abbreviation Audubon is used to indicate this individual as the author when "citing a "botanical name.[99]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Nelson, Randy F. The Almanac of American Letters. Los Altos, California: William Kaufmann, Inc., 1981: 26. "ISBN 0-86576-008-X
  2. ^ a b Rhodes, Richard John James Audubon: The Making of an American, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004, p. 4, accessed April 26, 2011.
  3. ^ Sometimes, it is written "Rabin"
  4. ^ a b Souder, 2005, p. 18
  5. ^ a b DeLatt, Carolyne E., Lucy Audubon: A Biography (LSU Press, 2008), page 21
  6. ^ Rhodes, John James Audubon (2004), p. 6
  7. ^ Souder, 2005, p. 19
  8. ^ Alice Ford, Audubon By Himself, The Natural History Press, Garden City, NY: 1969, p. 4
  9. ^ Rhodes, JJ Audubon (2004), p. 6
  10. ^ a b Souder, 2005, p. 20
  11. ^ Shirley Streshinsky, Audubon: Life and Art in the American Wilderness, Villard Books, New York, 1993, "ISBN 0-679-40859-2, p. 13
  12. ^ Stanley Clisby Arthur, Audubon" An Intimate Life of the American Woodsman (Pelican Publishing, 1937), page 478
  13. ^ Rhodes, John James Audubon (2004), pp. 3–4
  14. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 22
  15. ^ Ford, 1969, p. 3
  16. ^ a b Rhodes, 2004, p. 5
  17. ^ Streshinsky, 1993, p. 14
  18. ^ Streshinsky, 1993, p. 16–17
  19. ^ Sharpe, Mary Rozier and James, Louis, Between the Gabouri, History of the Rozier Family, 1981
  20. ^ Rhodes, John James Audubon (2004), p.
  21. ^ "National Gallery of Art". Retrieved December 10, 2010. 
  22. ^ Ford, 1969, p. 10
  23. ^ Streshinsky, 1993, p. 24
  24. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 11
  25. ^ "Audubon". Audubon. February 8, 2010. Retrieved December 10, 2010. 
  26. ^ Streshinsky, 1993, p. 39
  27. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 32
  28. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 38
  29. ^ "John James Audubon Timeline", American Masters, PBS. Retrieved February 7, 2009.
  30. ^ Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events of the year: 1862. New York: D. Appleton & Company. 1863. p. 672. 
  31. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 55
  32. ^ a b Streshinsky, 1993, p. 64
  33. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 83–85
  34. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 166
  35. ^ Ford, 1969, p. 24
  36. ^ Agreement from Francis Hobart Herrick, Ph. D., Sc. D. D., Audubon The Naturalist, A History of His Life and Time. Appleton and Company, New York, London, 1917, page 359.
  37. ^ Original hand-written receipt of the financial exchange per the Agreement, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, Missouri. "Ste. Genevieve April 6, 1811, $1,000.000, Six Months after date I promise to pay Mr. John Audubon or Orders One Thousand Dollars Value without (unreadable). Signed Ferdinand Rozier (signature torn off), Witnessed: John Lecite, John McAuthur"
  38. ^ Rozier, Firmin A. (1890). History of the Early Settlement of the Mississippi Valley. 
  39. ^ Ford, 1969, p. 56
  40. ^ The Life, John James Audubon, The Naturalist. Edited by his widow. New York. G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1890. Originally, England 1869
  41. ^ Ford, 1969, p. 57
  42. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 105
  43. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 116
  44. ^ Ford, 1969, p. 85
  45. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 143
  46. ^ Ford, 1969, p. 25
  47. ^ Markle, Douglas F. (1997). "Audubon's hoax: Ohio River fishes described by Rafinesque". Archives of Natural History. 24 (3): 439–447. "doi:10.3366/anh.1997.24.3.439. 
  48. ^ Woodman, Neal (2016). "Pranked by Audubon: Constantine S. Rafinesque's description of John James Audubon's imaginary Kentucky mammals". Archives of natural history. 43 (1): 95–108. "doi:10.3366/anh.2016.0349. 
  49. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 209
  50. ^ Streshinsky, 1993, p. 102
  51. ^ a b Punke, p. 21
  52. ^ Arthur, pp. 256-7
  53. ^ Arthur, pp. 258-9
  54. ^ Punke, p. 225
  55. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 237
  56. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 261
  57. ^ a b Rhodes, 2004, p. 403
  58. ^ Mearns, B. & R., John Kirk Townsend: Collector of Audubon's Western Birds and Mammals (2007)
  59. ^ Townsend, John Kirk, Excursion to the Oregon, Edinburgh: W. and R. Chambers, 1846
  60. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 303
  61. ^ Streshinsky, 1993, p. 328
  62. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 273, 389
  63. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 300
  64. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 279
  65. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 276
  66. ^ "John James Audubon Chronicle", Cleveland Museum of Natural History, press release, February 1, 2007 Archived July 20, 2008, at the "Wayback Machine.
  67. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 316
  68. ^ a b National Audubon Society Inc. (n.d.) John James Audubon Retrieved from [1]
  69. ^ Lyons, M. (2011). Books A Living History. Los Angeles, California: Getty Publications.
  70. ^ Lyons, 2011, p. 135-136
  71. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 392
  72. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved April 27, 2011. 
  73. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 273
  74. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 366
  75. ^ a b "Dedication ceremopnies for Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park - Bunnell, Florida", Florida Memory, accessed March 14, 2015.
  76. ^ Tuck, Leslie. Montevecchi, William. Nuttall Ornithological Club. Newfoundland Birds, Exploitation, Study, Conservation, Harvard University Press, 1987.
  77. ^ Cox, C., 1983. A Key West Companion. Macmillan. p. 49–51. "ISBN 0312451830
  78. ^ Most, Jennifer L. et al. Audubon Park Historic District Designation Report "New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (May 12, 2009), p. 3, paragraph 2.
  79. ^ Audubon, John James (1840–1844). The birds of America : from drawings made in the United States and their territories. New York: J.B. Chevalier – via Biodiversity Heritage Library. 
  80. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 430
  81. ^ Chancellor, John (1978). Audubon : A Biography. New York: Viking Press. p. 210. "ISBN "9780670140534. 
  82. ^ Streshinsky, 1993, p. 361
  83. ^ "What is the Heritage Rose District of NYC?". 
  84. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 375
  85. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 163
  86. ^ Rhodes, 2004, p. 306
  87. ^ "John James Audubon: Drawn from Nature", American Masters, PBS. Retrieved February 7, 2009.
  88. ^ Van Biema, David (January 2, 2014). "Bay Psalm Book fetches $14.2 million in record auction". 
  89. ^ Ben Quinn (November 26, 2008). "John James Audubon's birthday celebrated by Google doodle". Guardian. Retrieved April 26, 2011. 
  90. ^ Robert Penn Warren (October 1, 1998). The Collected Works of Robert Penn Warren. "ISBN "9780807123331. Retrieved October 26, 2014. 
  91. ^ Benét, Stephen Vincent (1987). A Book of Americans (Reprint ed.). Henry Holt and Co. "ISBN "0805002847. 
  92. ^ Govier, Katherine (2002). Creation. New York: Overlook Press. "ISBN "1-58567-410-9. 
  93. ^ Howard, Maureen (2001). Big as Life: Three Tales for Spring. New York: Viking. "ISBN "067089978X. 
  94. ^ Brown, John Gregory (2001). Audubon's Watch. New York: Houghton Mifflin. "ISBN "0-395-78607-X. 
  95. ^ "Dauphin Island Park and Beach Audubon Bird Sanctuary on Dauphin Island". Dauphin Island Park and Beach. Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  96. ^ "Audubon International - Home". Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  97. ^ "Scioto Audubon - Metro Parks - Central Ohio Park System". Metro Parks - Central Ohio Park System. Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  98. ^ "Garland Texas - Audubon Recreation Center". Retrieved July 9, 2015. 
  99. ^ "IPNI.  Audubon. 


External links[edit]

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