John James Audubon (26 April, 1785 - 27 January, 1851) was a French-American ornithologist, naturalist, hunter, and painter. He painted, catalogued, and described the birds of North America in a form far superior to what had gone before. In his outsize personality and achievements, he seemed to represent the new American nation of the United States.
American artist and ornithologist, Audubon is mainly remembered for his Birds of America series, a book of 435 images, portraits of every bird then known in the United States, all painted and reproduced in the size of life. Its creation cost Audubon eighteen years of monumental effort in finding the birds, making the book, and selling it to subscribers. The illustrations are life-sized, creating a challenge for birds that stand taller than what could fit on a 39.5" by 28.5" print. Because of this, his tall birds, like the heron and flamingo, are my favorites. While some find them conspicuously awkwardly positioned, I've always thought being bent in half actually captures these birds more appropriately than the standard long and lean look. He was also intent on capturing birds in flight. Audubon actually shot a lot of the birds he illustrated and went to great lengths to pin his models up in what appeared to be their natural positions of diving and flight. "Birds of America" recently became the most expensive book ever, when a copy sold for about 11.5 million dollars at auction.
It should come as no surprise that I am a big fan of the man's work, and today would have been his 228th birthday. In my small way I would like to pay tribute to the man by sharing with everyone a few of my favourite Audubon paintings. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
To give you an idea of the size of the original book.
Black Crowned Night Heron (one of my wife's favourite birds)
Mockingbird ( a truly amazing bird)
Western Shore Lark
(you didn't think for a second there wouldn't be a Lark, did you?)
For anyone who loves birds of just stunning painting I would seriously recommend getting a copy of Audubon's Birds of America: The Audubon Society Baby Elephant Folio , it is an amazing book. For any birders, like myself, you will already know the significance of Audubon's work.
Perhaps soon I'll share some of the better pictures I've taken while out birding...perhaps.
P.S. I've obviously been quite lax with posting for the last, well, few months. I've had a lot of projects and personal things going on for awhile but things have slowed (thank goodness) so I'll be able to get back to doing one of the things I love, sharing all the things that excite me with all of you.