Perhaps more than any other watercolor preparatory for The Birds of America, this sheet helps us to understand the level of planning that Audubon put into his tableaux. The sheet is really a layout for Havell to follow in constructing the final engraved copperplate composition (Figure 1). In his watercolor, JJA painted only two of the seven birds that he indicated for the engraving, no doubt supplying the others to Havell on separate sheets which have not survived. Audubon portrayed the bird crowning the page―a male House Finch—from a specimen lent to him by John Gould (1804–1881), the British ornithologist. Its companion, a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, had been collected by the Scottish naturalist John Richardson (1787–1865) during an Arctic expedition. In the engraving, Havell, on JJA’s instructions, lowered and centered the bird numbered “5” in brown ink.
Audubon’s Aviary: Part I and Part II of The Complete Flock
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Letter from John James Audubon (Liverpool, England) to Robert Havell Jr. (London, England), December 31, 1827
This letter dates from the first year of the Audubon-Havell collaboration, [...]
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.