Museum of Nebraska Art
Heritage of Audobon III
"Ever since I was
a boy, I have had an astonishing desire to see the world and acquire a knowledge
of birds." John James Audobon
of Nebraska Art and the Nebraska Art Collection Foundation are presenting
through March 26, 2000 a variety of wildlife art carrying on the spirit
of the Audubon illustrations and celebrating the Sandhill Crane migration.
The exhibition contains five hand colored lithographs by John James Audobon
and works of twelve contemporary wildlife artists.
There will be a presentation Friday March 17 at 5:30 p.m.
by participating artist Ed McGill titled "Bringing Wood to Life."
On Saturday March 18 at 2:00 p.m. artist Bob Ceresa will
present "Carving Techniques," and on Saturday March 18 from 4:00
- 6:00 p.m.there will be a reception for the artists. (left: Robert
Ceresa, Redhead Drake, tupelo and oil, life-size; right: Ed McGill,
Jake the Drake, tupelo and acrylic/oil, life-size)
John James Audubon
- Audubon was about thirty-five years old when he seriously
began painting watercolors of the different species of North American birds.
Over the next six years he traveled the area of today's United States,
capturing the images of some 489 species. He then traveled to England in
search of engravers and support for his future publication. After gaining
financial support, most of it in Great Britain, the Birds of America,
containing 435 aquatints was published between 1827 and 1838. Audubon sold
subscriptions, acted as his own publisher, sold painted replicas of his
pictures to pay for living expenses, wrote the scientific text and essays,
supervised the engraving and colored the prints. The Birds of America
appeared in four volumes with the aquatints copied from his drawings in
their original size and colored by hand. The double elephant folio size
was the largest ever attempted in the history of book publishing (approximately
36 inches by 25 inches). The largest of the four volumes weighed 56 pounds.
The prints included representations of 1065 birds.
- Audubon's prints often contained more than one example
of each species. They were depicted life size and often in a setting appropriate
in terms of both the habits of the birds and the geography of their habitat.
Small birds were often displayed against decorative foliage, while larger
birds were frequently shown in action. While Audubon lacked the scientific
background of an ornithologist, his artistic talent allowed him to infuse
life into his subjects making them superior to his predecessor, Alexander
Wilson. Audubon brought an essential "aliveness" and something
of a personality peculiar to the species. His accompanying text the Ornithological
Biography was edited and rewritten by William MacGillivray and published
in five royal octave volumes between 1831 and 1839.
the success of his Birds of America Audubon returned to the United
Stares and embarked on a companion project, the Viviparous Quadrupeds
of North America. This less ambitious collection of 150 plates was
reproduced using the newer and less expensive process of lithography. This
work appeared in two volumes between 1845 and 1848. He was assisted in
this project by his two sons Victor Gifford Audubon (1809-1860) and John
Woodhouse Audubon (1812-1862). John Woodhouse executed almost half of the
original designs, often illustrating the smaller animals. (left:
John James Audobon, American Red Fox, 1845-48, handcolored lithograph)
- Today Audubon is recognized as a major American artist
and the originator of the greatest publication in early American art. It
is in the Audubon spirit of accuracy and artistic design that the Museum
of Nebraska Art presents the wildlife artists of The Heritage of Audobon
from the introduction to the exhibition catalog by James M. May, Curator
Read more about the Museum
of Nebraska Art in Resource
For further biographical information on selected artists
cited above please see America's Distinguished
Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line
to see enlargements.
Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.
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