LucyAudubonfrmCopyNegUnknown photographer after a miniature of ca. 1831 by Frederick Cruickshank (1800–1868)
Lucy Bakewell Audubon (1787–1874)
Photograph from a copy negative
Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections

In her youth, Lucy Bakewell looked like an English Pre-Raphaelite beauty or “stunner” —with melancholic eyes and curly raven locks—prefiguring by several decades the look of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s (1828–1882) models. Highly educated, physically strong, and a musician, she swam naked in rivers and observed birds in caves with Audubon, like him answering the call of the wild. Their relationship proves that opposites attract: she was the steady, logical presence to his more intuitive, artistic temperament. Like many female birds, her plumage was less flashy than that of her mate. Certainly a force of nature, Lucy proved to be not only a resilient frontier woman, but also a forceful sales person. In 1862 she presented Audubon’s watercolors to a committee at the Historical Society. For hours she showed the large works, quietly explaining the circumstances under which each was painted and the hardships Audubon had endured to create them. She also had a sense of humor, once remarking: “If I were jealous, I would have a bitter time of it, for every bird is my rival.”

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