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    John James Audubon (1785-1851). Fork-Tailed Flycatcher - Plate CLXVIII - Uncolored Original Proof (Havell Edition).

    An uncolored original aquatint engraving by R. Havell from the first edition of The Birds of America (London: 1827-1838). Watermarked "J Whatman 1836." Plate dated 1833. Printer's credit reads: "Engraved, Printed, & Coloured, by R. Havell." This Havell print is in good condition, with toned paper, foxing, and spotting. Several chips and tears around edges. Many tears around the perimeter have been amateurishly repaired on the reverse with cello tape, causing stains to the front and the back of the sheet. Whatman watermark and the platemark depression are both present. Sheet has been trimmed and now measures approximately 24 x 32 inches.

    Robert Havell, a perfectionist, was known for his superb artistry and exacting precision, and his work went through several closely-supervised steps of quality control before final publication. As it would frequently take a year or more between the original engraving of the plate and the ultimate publication, dates were generally not etched into the plate until Havell had run a series of uncolored proofs and then a series of colored proofs as tests. Only when everything was deemed perfect would Havell engrave the date in the plate and allow printing to commence. This is an original Havell proof on original Whatman paper. An unusual item in an uncommon state.

    Ron Flynn, The Audubon Price Guide.

    More Information: John James Audubon (1785-1851), the Haitian-born Frenchman who spent most of his life in the United States, is, without question, the greatest and most influential painter of birds in the history of ornithological illustration. His masterpiece, the Birds of America (1827-1838), took twelve years of meticulous work to complete. The 435 hand-colored aquatint engravings, masterfully rendered by Robert Havell, were originally printed on huge double elephant folio paper, depicting North American birds in their full life-size glory. This original "Havell Edition" is the first and most sought-after printing, and it is estimated that only 175 complete sets of this edition were produced. In 1842 Audubon issued the "Octavo Edition," a smaller format (and more affordable) edition intended to reach a larger audience. The "Bien Edition"- a collection of chromolithograph reissues - appeared between 1858 and 1860, but was left incomplete as the publication was halted by the onset of the Civil War; it is estimated that only 75 sets of this edition were issued. Audubon's last work was The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, a study of mammals published in both an imperial folio format by J. T. Bowen as well as an octavo edition by Lockwood & Co. Not only was Audubon a superb wildlife painter, but he also contributed significantly to the study of bird anatomy and behavior. John James Audubon's influential and groundbreaking work occupies a monumental place of honor in the pantheon of ornithological art.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2009
    16th-17th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,234

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