DescriptionJohn James Audubon (1785-1851). Snow Bunting - Plate CLXXXIX (Havell Edition). Hand-colored aquatint engraving.
by R. Havell from the first edition of The Birds of America (London: 1827-1838). Plate dated 1834.
An original colored aquatint engraving by R. Havell from the first edition of The Birds of America (London: 1827-1838). Watermarked "J Whatman 1834." Paper uniformly browned and toned, with some cockling or short tears and abrasions, especially at the edges. A few minor bumps and scrapes. A fair to good example. 38 x 24.75 inches.
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.
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