John James Audubon  (American, 1785-1851) 

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John James Audubon (French/American, April 26, 1785–January 27, 1851) was a painter and ornithologist. He is best known for his study of North American birds. He was born in Les Cayes, in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (Haiti), before being sent to Couëron, France, where he grew up. As both a child and young man, Audubon spent his time in the woods, observing birds and collecting eggs and nests. In 1803, he illegally immigrated to the United States to avoid forced, military service during the Napoleonic wars.

Audubon is not associated with any specific artistic movement, nor did he attend a university of art. He is known to have studied oil painting with painter Thomas Sully (American, 1783–1872). His work is marked by attention to detail and authentic representation. Audubon achieved an element of Realism in his drawings by using wire to set the birds in natural poses. As a painter, he worked with both watercolor and oils. Some of his more famous individual paintings include Fox and Goose and The Wild Turkey.

Audubon spent approximately four years, from 1820 to 1824, traveling around the country in an attempt to find and paint an example of every bird in North America, with an eye toward publishing prints. This goal is thought to have been inspired by the work of ornithologist and illustrator Alexander Wilson (Scottish/American, 1766–1813), the preeminent ornithologist of his day. After being rejected by American publishers, Audubon traveled to England in 1826, where his work was met with enthusiasm. It was there, through a combination of advance subscriptions, commissions, and exhibitions, that he arranged to publish his monumental collection of prints, Birds of America. This collection is considered to be a seminal work in the field of ornithology. Audubon’s pieces have been displayed in numerous museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C., and the Victoria Gallery and Museum at the University of Liverpool in England. The artist died on January 27, 1851.

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After John James Audubon, Green Shank (Totanus Glottis) with St. Augustine in the Background from the Birds of America

 

After John James Audubon
Green Shank (Totanus Glottis) with St. Augustine in the Background from the Birds of America
1827-1838

Auction: Apr 30, 2014
Gray's Auctioneers
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John James Audubon, Long Haired Squirrel

 

John James Audubon
Long Haired Squirrel
circa 1841

Hirschl & Adler Galleries
John James Audubon, Red Breasted Sandpiper

 

John James Audubon
Red Breasted Sandpiper
1836

Savvy Collector
John James Audubon, Purple Martin

 

John James Audubon
Purple Martin
1827

Kiechel Fine Art
John James Audubon, White Heron

 

John James Audubon
White Heron
1837

Kiechel Fine Art
 
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After John James Audubon, Trumpeter swan, plate CCCCVI from The Birds of America

 

After John James Audubon
Trumpeter swan, plate CCCCVI from The Birds of America, 1838
Hand-colored engraving, etching and aquatint

 

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After John James Audubon, Tell-tale godwit or snipe, plate CCCVIII from The birds of America

 

After John James Audubon
Tell-tale godwit or snipe, plate CCCVIII from The birds of America, 1836
hand-colored engraving and aquatint

 

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After John James Audubon, Slender billed guillemot, plate CCCCXXX from The Birds of America

 

After John James Audubon
Slender billed guillemot, plate CCCCXXX from The Birds of America, 1838
handcolored etching

 

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1785   Born: in Les Cayes, Santo Domingo (Haiti) on April 26th
1795 - 1796   Audubon was the student of Jacques-Louis David in Paris
1803   Sent to manage Mill Grove in America
1810   Met Alexander Wilson
1819   Jailed briefly for debt
1820   Worked as a taxidermist
1822   Took oil painting lessons from John Stein
1819 - 1826   Earned a living making chalk likenesses
1838   Completed The Birds of America
1831 - 1839   Published his Ornithological Biography in five volumes
1845 - 1848   The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America is printed
1851   Died: in New York, NY on January 27th
2009   Audubon at Illinois: Selections from the University Library's Birds of America, Krannert Art Museum and Kinkead Pavilion, Champaign, IL (solo)
2009   John James Audobon: American Artist and Naturalist, Ella Sharp Museum of Art and History, Jackson, MI (solo)