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John James Audubon Gallery     Prints.     Full biography.
John James Audubon (1785-1851)
Audubon was born in Haiti, the illegitimate son of a French sea captain and his mistress, and raised in France by his stepmother. In 1803 his father obtained a false passport for for him to travel to the United States to avoid the draft for the Napoleonic Wars. He sailed down the Mississippi intent on finding and painting all the birds of North America. In order to draw or paint the birds, he had to shoot them. Between 1827 and 1839 he published Birds of America, a book of bird paintings and, with William MacGillivray, Ornithological Biographies. His final work was on mammals, the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. He is buried in the Trinity Churchyard Cemetery at 155th Street and Broadway in Manhattan, New York.
Sea Eagle
Farmyard Fowls
Fox and Goose
Bald Eagle
Osprey and the Otter


Carolina Parakeet (Carolina Parrot), 1827-1838
Hand-colored aquatint/engraving on Whatman paper, sheet: 38 1/4 x 25 1/4 in.

This busy branch of birds delights for its vivaciousness and its patterns. To give the individuals life, the artist presents them in action, feeding on a typical meal, some spreading their wings in a variety of contortions. Just as a skillful portraitist employs the trick of engaging viewers by having human subjects make eye contact with the audience, Audubon has several birds' eyes turned toward the spectator and one bird facing outward. The now extinct Carolina Parakeet was in Audubon's time the only common parrot species in the United States. This image is one plate from the Museum's complete first edition of The Birds of America.
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