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Biography of
John James Audubon

All About

of Sale

The Birds of America,
Havell Edition

The Birds of America,
Bien Edition

The Birds of America,
Royal Octavo Edition

The Birds of America, Amsterdam Edition

The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America

The Quadrupeds of North America

The Natural History of
Carolina, etc., Catesby

Audubon and Natural
History Books

The Birds of America, Abbeville, Ariel, and Princeton Editions Natural History Collectibles The Viviparous Quadrupeds
of North America

Southart-Parkway Edition

John James Audubon, 1785-1851

John Audubon gave several different accounts of his birth, but the discovery of records in France in the early 1900’s established that he was the son of a French naval captain and a French servant girl who worked for Captain Audubon at his sugar plantation in Santo Domingo, Haiti. Audubon’s real mother died within a short time after his birth, so Audubon’s father took him back to France as a young child where Captain Audubon and his legal wife adopted him.

To avoid conscription by Napoleon, Captain Audubon sent his son to America to manage property he had purchased near Philadelphia. It was here that Audubon met and married his wife, Lucy Bakewell, whose support was critical in achieving his success. During his early married years he was unsuccessful in business and attained fame as an artist only after many troubled years. Audubon’s genius was recognized after he went to England and subscribers made possible the publication of his 435 prints (1827-1838).

In the 1830’s Audubon also wrote his 5-volume Ornithological Biography, which described the habits of the birds he drew. After completing his folio, Audubon published his small Birds of America between 1840 and 1844. These prints are known as the “octavo edition” and are most prized by collectors today.

After being successful with the birds, Audubon undertook to publish the prints of the animals of America, 1845-1848. This proved more difficult than he had anticipated, as many of our animals were nocturnal and their habits were hard to discover. He was greatly aided by a Lutheran minister in Charleston, South Carolina, Dr. John G. Bachman, whose daughters were the first wives of his two sons, John W. and Victor G. Audubon. In fact, John drew about half of the 150 folio animal plates, and Victor contributed by managing the sales and drawing many of the backgrounds. An octavo edition of the animals was published in 1849.

Audubon was known as the American Woodsman. He spent days and weeks in the woods studying birds and animals, and his spectacular drawings remain today as an unmatched achievement by an American artist/naturalist. Interest in Audubon's prints continues to escalate.  Some major images in the Havell edition bring over $150,000. While the top images command high prices, most of Audubon's folio bird prints fall below $10,000.

Since the turn of the century, Audubon's work has appeared in magazines, on TV, and in numerous exhibits at galleries, exhibitions, and museums across the US and Europe.

The folio quadrupeds have also been at the forefront of American animal art and received much attention in the 2001 four-museum exhibition mounted by the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wyoming. Over thirty prints from our collection toured the nation with this exhibition. These prints are identified with an asterisk in the listing, but only a few remain available.

Finally, a recent biography of Audubon by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Richard Rhodes, adds some new information on his past works. Audubon’s life reads like fiction. We have many books by and about Audubon and his works. Even today he is considered the premier bird artist of all time.

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