For his portrayal of these members of the crow family, which he executed in Charleston, Audubon used models taken from Townsend and Nuttall’s collection of western species. He positioned the Yellow-billed Magpie at the center with the Western Scrub-Jay at the top, below which perches the Steller’s Jay, with a pair of Clark’s Nutcrackers (a species discovered on the Lewis and Clark expedition and named after William Clark, 1770–1838) at the bottom. Maria Martin drew the sweetgum. Figure 1 is one of the 435 copper plates that Havell produced for the plates of The Birds of America. Today about 75 of them survive, four of which are in the N-YHS collection. Faced with steel for preservation, they allow one to appreciate the subtle intaglio techniques of etching, aquatint, and engraving that Havell used to translate Audubon’s watercolors to the copper plate (in reverse) for printing the plates of The Birds of America. They are rather like low relief sculptures.
Audubon’s Aviary: Part I and Part II of The Complete Flock
Letter from Lucy Audubon (New York, New York) to Frederic De Peyster (New York, New York), February 13, 1863
In this letter to Frederic De Peyster, who brokered the sale of Audubon’s w[...]
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, [...]
In Audubon’s era the bird he portrayed in this magnificent watercolor model[...]
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.