Belon, Aldrovandi, & Jonstonus
Nieremberg & Willoughby
Catesby's Natural History of SC
Edwards & Pennant
Illustration processes
Wilson's American Ornitology
Audubon's Birds of America
Audubon & Bachman
Selby, Swainson, & Gould
De Kay & Cassin
Selected References

Audubon and Others


John James Audubon, 1785-1851: the Naturalist as Frontiersman
Syme, John, 1795-1861,
John James Audubon
Oil, 1826, from Ella M. Foshay, John James Audubon (New York: Abrams, 1997).
--Audubon's extraordinary impact, especially in the 1820's and early 1830's, stemmed in part from his personal image, as a romantic frontiersman, who roved freely beyond the confines of metropolitan and Enlightenment knowledge. This portrait was painted while Audubon was in Edinburgh, arranging for the publication of his Birds of America.

Audubon and the Age of Revolutions
Brissot de Warville, J.-P. (Jacques-Pierre), 1754-1793.
Lettre de J.P. Brissot M. Barnave: sur ses rapports concernant les colonies, les dcrets qui les ont suivis, leurs consquences fatales; sur sa conduite dans le cours de la rvolution; sur le caractre des vrais dmocrate . . .
Paris: Desenne, 1790.
--Audubon was born, not in the America with which he is so closely identified, but in Saint-Dominique (now Haiti) in the French West Indies, the illegitimate son of a French planter and his creole mistress. Following the French Revolution of 1789, father and children returned to France, but with Toussaint l'Ouverture's Haitian Revolution the following year, the Audubons lost their West Indies holdings. In revolutionary Paris, the young Audubon was exposed to the natural history of Buffon and Lamarck, studied painting with David, and completed some early bird-pictures.

Audubon in America
St. John, Horace Stebbing Roscoe, Mrs.
Audubon, the naturalist of the New world. His adventures and discoveries.
Rev. and cor., with additions, and illustrated with engravings by J. W. Orr, from original designs.
New York: C. S. Francis and company, 1856. Original cloth.
--Audubon emigrated to the United States in 1803, when he was eighteen, and after a period in Pennsylvania (and a brief return to France), married and moved west as a merchant and storekeeper, first to Kentucky (where Alexander Wilson once visited his store), and then following successive business failures to Ohio (where he worked as a taxidermist) and Louisiana. While his wife supported the family as a governess, Audubon set out to become the greatest American bird-artist. The frontispiece of this early popular biography shows his home in Louisiana.

From Audubon's Birds of America, I: the Kentucky Warbler
John James Audubon, 1785-1851,
"Kentucky Warbler," plate 38, from his
Birds of America, no. 8 (London: Havell, 1828).
--Initially, Audubon had hoped to publish his work in Philadelphia, but Wilson's American Ornithology had preempted this. In 1826, he set out for Europe, to Edinburgh, then a center for the natural sciences. The first ten plates of the double-elephant folio were published by an Edinburgh engraver, W.H. Lizars, in 1827. When Audubon broke with Lizars, publication moved to London, to Robert Havell, who remained Audubon's publisher for the next ten years, through the full series of 435 huge handcolored copperplate engravings. The original price was two guineas a number (164 pounds sterling for the series).

Among the great glories of the library is the full set of John James Audubon's double elephant folio engravings Birds of America, published in parts between 1828 and 1838. A subscription to these hand-colored copperplates, engraved by Robert Havell Jr. of London from paintings by Audubon, was voted by the South Carolina legislature in December 1831. Shown here is the engraving from one of Audubon's early paintings for the series, probably done in Louisiana or Mississppi in 1822. The background is by Joseph Mason.

Not till the 1850's was an effort made to publish full-size Audubons in America, by Bien, in the form of lithographs, though by the outbreak of war only 106 plates had been issued. All three folio editions of Audubon's first plate (1827, 1828, 1858) are currently displayed in the entrance hallway to the Graniteville Room.

From Audubon's Birds of America, II: the Yellow-crowned Heron
John James Audubon, 1785-1851, and Maria Martin
"Yellow-crowned Heron," plate 336, from his
Birds of America, no. 68 (London: Havell, 1836).
--Audubon painted the birds in this picture in Charleston, South Carolina, in October 1831. The male bird was painted from a specimen shot by his Charleston friend, Dr. John Bachman, and the trailing vine (smilax) was painted by Bachman's sister-in-law and future wife Maria Martin.

Audubon's Birds of America at South Carolina College
[Edward W. Johnston],
Catalogue of the Library of the South Carolina College.
Columbia, SC: the Telescope, 1836.
--On his way south in 1831, Audubon had met Col. William Campbell Preston of Columbia, who with others narrowly persuaded the South Carolina legislature to subscribe to Audubon's double-elephant folio, for the College library. The appropriation passed in the House by only one vote. The full set cost South Carolina $925, with a further $50 being spent on binding the fourth volume. This entry from the library's 1836 catalogue shows the series still in progress, with two volumes received.

From Audubon's Birds of America, III: The Snowy Heron
John James Audubon, 1785-1851,
"Snowy Heron," plate 242, from Birds of America, no. 49 (London:Havell, 1835)
--In early spring of 1832, Audubon and his assistant George Lehman again visited Charleston, staying in Dr. Bachman's home. On March 25, Audubon recorded seeing thousands of snowy herons in the marshes and rice fields. Audubon probably painted this specimen at that time, and Lehman added the background view of a low country plantation.

From Audubon's Birds of America, IV: the Scarlet Tanager
John James Audubon, 1785-1851, and Maria Martin
"Louisiana Tanager; Scarlet Tanager," plate 354, from his Birds of America, no. 71 (London: Havell, 1837).
--the scale of Audubon's project meant that for some specimens he had to rely on other collectors. The two Louisiana (or western) tanagers here were supplied by a Dr. Townsend. Audubon painted these specimens in Charleston in the winter of 1836-37. The plant on which they are perched, the red bay, was painted by Maria Martin.

From Audubon's Birds of America, V: the Louisiana Heron 
John James Audubon, 1785-1851,
"Louisiana Heron," plate 227, from his Birds of America, no. 44 (London: Havell, 1834).
--Audubon painted this specimen during his trip to the Florida Keys in the spring of 1832. The background scene, showing a reef-like key, with low dense shrubs, was painted by Audubon's assistant, the Swiss artist George Lehman, who had accompanied him to Florida.

Audubon's Text
Audubon, John James, 1785-1851.
Ornithological biography, or An account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America; accompanied by descriptions of the objects represented in the work entitled The birds of America, and interspersed with delineations of American scenery and manners.
5 vols. Edinburgh: A. Black, 1831-1839. Calf.
--Perhaps to avoid the requirement of giving free copies to the then-numerous British libraries with copyright privileges, Audubon, unlike Catesby or Wilson, originally published his illustrations without any accompanying text. However, he followed them with this separate series, in a smaller user-friendly format. Audubon's text provides descriptions of each species depicted, often with details of the circumstances under which he first observed it or obtained a specimen, interspersed with these very readable autobiographical essays on frontier life and exploration.

Audubon in later life
Victor and John W. Audubon,
John James Audubon
Oil, 1841, from Ella M. Foshay, John James Audubon (New York: Abrams, 1997).
--When his sons collaborated on this portrait, Audubon's success had enabled him to settle his family on a thirty-five acre estate, Minnie's Land, on the Hudson River.

The Octavo Birds of America
Audubon, John James, 1785-1851.
"American Flamingo," pl. 375, vol. VI, The birds of America, from drawings made in the United States and their territories.
7 vols. New York: J. J. Audubon; Philadelphia, J. B. Chevalier, 1840-44. Modern half morocco
--The first edition of Audubon's Birds to integrate plates and text was the octavo, first published in 1840-44, and reissued several times by his sons after his death. For this edition, John W. Audubon reduced the double-elephant folio plates to the smaller format with a camera lucida, and the plates were reproduced by lithography, rather than as copperplates. In the first octavo edition, the background remains uncolored, while in later octavo editions (as in the Bien folio) background color has been added.

The Octavo Audubon in Parts
Audubon, John James, 1785-1851.
"Barn or Chimney Swallow," pl. 48, no. 10, and cover, no. 11, from The birds of America, from drawings made in the United States and their territories.
100 parts. New York: J.J. Audubon; Philadelphia: J.B. Chevalier, 1840-44. Original blue wrappers.
--Like its full-size predecessor, the octavo edition was issued in parts, though most surviving copies have either been broken up for the illustrations or bound up as sets.

Audubon Reclassified
Audubon, John James, 1785-1851.
A synopsis of the birds of North America.
Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black; London: Longman, Rees, Brown, Green, and Longman, 1839.
--Audubon's Birds of America had originally been arranged, not by any formal classification scheme, but to provide subscribers with an interestingly varied selection of plates in each issue they received. This Synopsis provided a scientifically-respectable arrangement and index, together with detailed references and corrected nomenclature.

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