As he rushed to complete his “great work,” The Birds of America, Audubon purchased many skins and, in order to meet his deadline, illustrated more than one species on a single sheet. During the winter of 1836 in Charleston, he painted these related members of the titmouse family, a male and female of each species, in a charming scene. He only knew the Black-capped Chickadee (at the bottom) and obtained specimens of the two western species from the ornithologists Dr. John Kirk Townsend (1786–1859) and Thomas Nuttall (1809–1851), who had discovered them on the Wyeth Expedition to the Pacific northwest. They maneuver around the central, gourd-shaped hanging nest of the Bushtit (the pair at the right). This architectural marvel was provided by Nuttall, and Maria Martin, who painted the branches of the willow oak, probably assisted Audubon, who used scratching out in its execution.
Audubon’s Aviary: Part I and Part II of The Complete Flock
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Museum StoreWritten by Roberta J.M. Olson with a contribution by Marjorie Shelley, Audubon’s Aviary: The Original Watercolors for the Birds of America returns to these original paintings and tells the story behind this monumental classic with new discoveries about this American icon. Audubon’s Aviary was awarded the 2013 Association of Art Museum Curators Outstanding Permanent Collection Catalogue Prize, as well as the Henry Allen Moe Prize for Catalogs of Distinction in the Arts, the New York State Historical Association, 2013. It was also selected as one of Amazon.com’s 2012 Best Books of the Year and the 2013 New York Book Show Award winner in the category of Fine Art.