John James Audubon

Creator Details

  • Birth

    Apr. 26, 1785 (Les Cayes, Saint Domingue (now Haiti))

  • Death

    Jan. 27, 1851 (Carmansville, New York)

After an unsuccessful career as a merchant in Kentucky, Audubon embarked on an ambitious new venture: The Birds of America (1827–38), a lavish folio of color prints of birds native to North America. Traveling across the present-day United States, he hunted thousands of birds, posing their bodies for life-size watercolor paintings that communicated key aspects of their appearance and behavior. These watercolors became the basis of 435 hand-colored engravings, which Audubon marketed to wealthy buyers in America and Europe.

The Carter’s collection includes 22 engravings from Birds of America, as well as bound volumes of smaller octavo editions of the project. In addition, the Museum is home to a complete set of prints from Audubon’s subsequent project, The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America (1845–48), which portrays four-footed mammals from across the continent.

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