Tuesday, February 15, 2011

John James Audubon: Birds of America

Carolina Parakeet
Photo by: © Musée de la civilisation 2003

John James Audubon was one of the most noted Ornithological artists of his time, and still is today. Not only was he a naturalist, he was also a well rounded taxidermist which gave him an even broader view of the bird anatomy.

Even though Audubon's affinity for birds and nature rang true from such a young age, his biggest endeavor didn't set fourth until years later. He began in October of 1820. Starting in Mississippi, he worked his way from there as well as Florida and Alabama. He attempted to paint at least once a day and would teach the children of wealthy plantation owners the fundamentals of drawing techniques to make spare money along the way. This way he could keep the artist supplies coming in when needed. With this equipment Audubon would produce these beyond intricate paintings of birds found in wildlife. He would continually be developing his technique upon learning a new skill from a fellow painter. Audubon was quit the perfectionist and would throw out earlier works just to re-do them with a more developed approach. By looking at any of his paintings you can closely depict the intricate detail he so highly demanded of himself.

About four years later Audubon set home to try and find a publisher for his collection of work, unfortunately there was no interest in the area. So two years later, he decided to travel on a cotton hauling ship to England, hoping for better success. He was quickly accepted and recognized for his work and soon had enough money to begin publishing immediately. The finished product was composed of 435 hand colored prints of 497 bird species; and was properly named Birds of America. Then after he was known as the "Woodsman" of America by fellow peers and fans. His fame continued to grow through England as well as Scotland and soon followed over to the States where it still holds true today.


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