This truly monumental work was published in eighty-seven parts between 1827 and 1838. Consisting of 435 plates in all, its huge format was dictated by Audubon’s determination to depict life size all the known species of birds in North America.
Born in the West Indies, Audubon was educated in France and early developed a taste for natural history and drawing; he moved to America in 1803. Although Audubon lacked formal artistic training, he studied birds in real life and built up his portfolio of brilliant drawings over a twenty year period. He eventually found a publisher for his great work in London and it was produced on demand by subscription. The white headed eagle is shown here. The plates are all engraved in aquatint and coloured by hand. Many of the birds are posed in attitudes anatomically impossible. Audubon later produced a five volume work entitled Ornithological biography as a text to accompany the atlas of drawings.
Categories: Special Collections