EVEN IN ULU KOTA BARU, I READ ABOUT JAMES AUDUBON WHEN I WAS A KID. I LOVE HIS DRAWINGS OF AVIANS AND SIMPLY ASSUME HE WAS THE ULTIMATE BIRD MAN.
Anyone with a modicum of taste and grey matter will go gaga over his perfectly realistic paintings of birds, artfully drawn in their natural habitat and in typical poses.
Original prints in bound books sell for millions of ringgit and well they should as they are true masterpieces, drawn skilfully and painted realistically in a time before photography was invented.
Many have heard of James Audubon and his bird pictures but few realise he also paints animals. Of course it is obvious his passion and love were birds but I guess anyone who loves nature cannot resist birds and bees, flora and fauna!
A fab fusion of fur and feathers!
John James Audubon: Fur and Feather
John James Audubon is known for his remarkable studies of American birds depicted in their natural habitats. His The Birds of North America (1827-1839), in which he identified 25 new species and a number of new sub-species, is considered to be one of the finest ornithological works ever completed. However, his studies of mammals are less well-known. To complement The Compassionate Eye: Birds and Beasts from the American Museum’s Print Collection, on view in the Exhibition Gallery from 10 March to 1 July 2012, the American Museum in Britain will display twelve folio engravings by this great ornithologist, naturalist and painter, in Claverton Manor at the start of the period room trail from 10 March to 28 October 2012.
John James Audubon’s exotic and often romanticised life has been widely chronicled; searching ‘Audubon’ on the internet produces over ten million hits. Born Jean-Jacques in
in 1785, he was the illegitimate son of Captain Jean
Audubon and his French-Creole mistress.
He was raised in Haiti ,
received some naval training, learned to love nature and wildlife, and began to
draw. To escape
conscription into Napoleon’s army the eighteen year old Audubon was sent to France America to manage his father’s new estate, Mill
Grove, near . Although Audubon returned to Philadelphia France he finally settled in in
His earliest studies of birds date back to 1804 but work for his epic The Birds of America demanded a more peripatetic way of life and in 1820 Audubon began his travels, supporting himself as a portrait painter and drawing master. His aim was to represent the authentic colours and detailed characteristics of each species life-size. He collected his own specimens, usually by shooting them, in order to record the colours before they faded. Wiring the birds in life-like positions, he transcribed their outlines as accurate pencil drawings.
In 1824, Audubon took his portfolio to
, then the
nation’s intellectual, scientific, and publishing centre, to seek financial
support and a publisher. Posturing as an
“American woodsman”, Audubon dressed in buckskins and slicked his
shoulder-length hair with bear grease but his unconventional appearance and
lack of academic credentials put off some of Philadelphia ’s intelligentsia. He soon abandoned this scheme and a year
later travelled to Philadelphia where he had more success
with the engravers, Havells of Reading. The engraved copper plates were produced directly from his life-size
drawings and each print was hand-coloured following Audubon’s precise instructions. All the Birds
were printed on double-elephant sized paper (29½ x 39½ in) which meant even the
largest species could be depicted. The folio of 435 plates was originally sold by
subscription with each set costing about $1,050. Britain
No less significant for their artistic quality or zoological accuracy are the plates from The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America (1845-48), a second marathon project begun in 1841. These were published in
where Audubon employed the
printer, J. T. Bowen, and used a different
medium, lithograph, on a smaller paper size, Imperial (33 x 22 in). However, his health was failing so his sons,
Victor and John, played an important role in the completion of this final
project. He died on 27 January 1851. Philadelphia
John James Audubon changed forever the way in which nature is illustrated. His painstakingly executed, life-size images underscore his genius and confirm his place as one of the great American artists of the 19th century.
Common American Wild Cat or Lynx