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John James Audubon
Wood Ibis

1840-1844

$1,200

About

An original hand-colored lithograph on wove paper by American artist John James Audubon (1785-1851) titled "Wood Ibis", 1840-1844. (Plate 361, No. 73). Limited edition: approx. 1,200. Lithography and hand-coloring by American artist John T. Bowen (1801-c.1856). Comes from Audubon's famous book "The Birds of America", First Royal Octavo Edition (1840-1844). Printed by John T. Bowen and published by John James Audubon and J.B. Chevalier, New York, NY and Philadelphia, PA. Provenance: private collection - Philadelphia, PA. Sheet size: 10.5" x 6.5". Image size: 7" x 5". Light toning associated with age. In otherwise excellent condition with strong color. Rare. Based on a drawing probably done in April, 1821. Audubon described the Ibis's marshland habitat: "You have rached the spot, and are standing on the margin of a dark-watered bayou, the sinuosities of which lead your eye into a labyrinth ending in complete darkness. The tall cane bow to each other from the shores, the majestic trees above them, all hung with funereal lichen, gently wave in the suffocating atmosphere; the bullfrog, alarmed, shrinks back into the water; the alligator raises his head above its surface , probably to see if the birds have arrived, and the wily cougar is stealthily advancing toward on of the Ibises, which he expects to carry off into the thicket. Through the dim light your eye catches a glimpse of the white plumaged birds, moving rapidly like spectres to and from." The background, added later , is probably Tunica Swamp, West Feliciana Parish, Lousiana. To make 'The Birds of America' more affordable and widely available, in 1839 John James Audubon began the first octavo edition, a smaller version of the folio which was printed and hand-colored by J. T. Bowen in Philadelphia. Employing a new invention, the camera lucida, the images were reduced in size, rendered in intermediate drawings by John James Audubon and his son John Woodhouse, and then drawn onto lithographic stones. These miniatures exhibit a remarkable amount of attention to quality and detail, as well as a meticulous fidelity to the larger works. Some compositional changes were made in order to accommodate the smaller format. Like the Havell edition, John James Audubon’s first octavo edition was sold by subscription and distributed in parts, five at a time. However, the octavo editions were issued in proper phylogenic, or species order. These prints also bear the plate number in the upper right-hand corner and the subscription number in the upper left. The first edition of approximately 1,200 sets was completed in five years from 1839 to 1844. A total of 500 images comprise the First Royal Octavo Edition. John James Audubon (April 26, 1785, Les Cayes, Saint-Domingue (later Haiti) – January 27, 1851 (aged 65) Manhattan, New York, U.S.), born Jean-Jacques Audubon, was an American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. He was notable for his expansive studies to document all types of American birds and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats. His major work, a color-plate book entitled The Birds of America (1827–1839), is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed. Audubon identified 25 new species.

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