Art Links Gallery - Audubon, John James (1785-1851)
     

 
   
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                                   Audubon, John James (1785-1851)

      Audubon, John James (1785-1851)
American naturalist, ornithologist, and artist, noted for his realistic portrayals of American wildlife. The National Audubon Society was founded in his honor.

                                    Audubon, John James (1785-1851)



Audubon was born on April 26, 1785, in Les Cayes, Santo Domingo (now Haiti), the son of a French naval officer who had served in the American Revolution (1776-1783). In 1789 his father took him to France, where he attended a military school and then studied drawing under the neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David. At the age of 18 Audubon returned to America and settled on a farm near Philadelphia.

                                    Audubon, John James (1785-1851) 

He devoted himself to a study of natural history, especially to making drawings of American birds. In 1808 he established a general store in Louisville, Kentucky, and later in Henderson, Kentucky. Neither venture was successful. During this period he continued to draw birds.


     Audubon, John James (1785-1851)   Audubon, John James (1785-1851)    

In about 1820 Audubon decided to make the painting of American birds his lifework. By 1826 he had enough drawings to enable him to go to England to seek a publisher; he was unable to find enough interest in his project in America.

           Audubon, John James (1785-1851)     Audubon, John James (1785-1851)

Exhibitions of his drawings in Liverpool and Edinburgh were successful, and in 1827 he began the publication of his masterpiece, The Birds of America. The work, completed in 1838, consists of 435 hand-colored folio plates depicting 1065 birds life-size. In 1831 Audubon, with the Scottish naturalist William MacGillivray, began to write a companion volume, The Ornithological Biography (5 volumes, 1831-1839), describing the characters and habits of the birds he had painted.

                                  Audubon, John James (1785-1851)

Between 1840 and 1844 the two books were combined and published as seven octavo volumes, with the drawings reduced in size, under the title The Birds of America. Of the original folio edition, it is estimated that only 175 sets are currently in existence.

                                  Audubon, John James (1785-1851)

In 1841 Audubon settled on a rural estate, now Audubon Park, on the Hudson River in New York City. With his sons and the naturalist John Bachman, Audubon began about 1840 the preparation of The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America (1845-1854), containing 150 folio plates, which was completed and published after his death on January 27, 1851.