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.

John James Audubon (1785–1851)<br /><em>House Finch (</em>Carpodacus mexicanus<em>), Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (</em>Leucosticte tephrocotis<em>), Lazuli Bunting</em><em> (</em>Passerina amoena<em>)</em><em>, Brown-headed Cowbird</em><em> (</em>Molothrus ater<em>)</em><em>, Evening Grosbeak</em><em> (</em>Coccothraustes vespertinus<em>)</em><em>, and Fox Sparrow (</em>Passerella iliaca<em>), Study for Havell pl. 424</em>, 1838

John James Audubon (1785–1851)
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus), Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (Leucosticte tephrocotis), Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena), Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater), Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus), and Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca), Study for Havell pl. 424, 1838
Watercolor and graphite with touches of gouache and black ink on paper, laid on card
Purchased for the Society by public subscription from Mrs. John J. Audubon, 1863.17.424

Figure 1. Robert Havell Jr. after John James Audubon, Plate 424, <em>The Birds of America</em> (1827–38), N-YHS, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections

Figure 1. Robert Havell Jr. after John James Audubon, Plate 424, The Birds of America (1827–38), N-YHS, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections

Share →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:


Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop us a note so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...