Friday, April 12, 2013

The Audubon Birds Transcended Life

The classic bird prints by John James Audubon have never gone out of style -- while only a small number of these prints still remain today (only 120 complete sets are known to exist), these classic images have never been more popular among bird enthusiasts.

John James Audubon was an artistic genius back in the day when he first created his famous Birds of America prints. Audubon was known to be as colorful a character as his bird paintings were, and he traveled throughout America to capture their likenesses. Audubon published his drawings in a limited series of bird prints between 1827 and 1838.

John James Audubon, of course, was an avid bird lover, and like all good birders, he would travel to remote locations and draw from life observation. However, for those birds that would be more troublesome to capture in life, he was known to shoot the birds and then pose the dead animals in life-like positions using wire and threads. These became models for many of his drawings. He would draw the birds in pen & ink and watercolor. He captured them in their natural surroundings, and would find minute detail. His birds were magnificent, although he was sometimes accused of being theatrical, as he would create exaggerated poses (no doubt from the liberal wire and thread-posed dead birds), and sometimes even awkward (no wonder!)

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