It was an awe-inspiring undertaking-to capture images of all the birds of America for the first time. John James Audubon embarked upon this daunting mission in the early nineteenth century. A Haitian-born Frenchman, Audubon crisscrossed America as an explorer, naturalist, and self-trained artist, creating hundreds of innovative watercolor paintings over three decades. He selected a final 435 of these masterworks as the models for the engraved plates of the Havell edition of The Birds of America (1827-38).
Written by Roberta J.M. Olson with a contribution by Marjorie Shelley, Audubon's Aviary: The Original Watercolors for the Birds of America (one of Amazon.com's 2012 Best Books of the Year) returns to these original paintings and tells the story behind this monumental classic with new discoveries about this American icon, as well as fresh insights and engaging quotes from Audubon's own compelling writings. These powerful images-all newly photographed using state-of-the-art techniques-illuminate Audubon's genius, which linked natural history, art, and a respect for the environment. This volume reproduces for the first time all 474 Audubon avian watercolors in the collection of the New-York Historical Society, and contains 710 illustrations, including many with the birds life-size as they were originally rendered by Audubon.