Joel Oppenheimer, The Birds of America: The Bien Chromolithographic Edition, hard-cover book bound in cloth with a full cloth slipcase, published 2013, and signed by the author
Acquire a copy of the stunning heirloom-quality book, The Birds of America: The Bien Chromolithographic Edition, signed by the author, Joel Oppenheimer, and available this week only at a discounted price. This well-researched book includes all 150 plates in the Bien edition, published for the first time in their entirety, a biography of John James Audubon, and the remarkable story of publishing the American edition of Audubon's Birds of America, which was produced in collaboration with the printmaker Julius Bien in double-elephant size by J. J. Audubon's son John Woodhouse Audubon.
Published in 2013, bound in cloth with a full cloth slipcase, this beautifully produced book is the first complete reproduction of Bien chromolithographs and will become the centerpiece of any bird lover’s library. 150 color illustrations. 15.3 x 2.5 x 23.3 inches.
$250 this week only (list price $350). Offer expires 4-16-18.
Produced between 1858 and 1860, the Bien edition of Audubon’s Birds of America is the largest and most valuable color plate book ever published in America, and the rarest of all Audubon folios. Also of double-elephant dimensions (27 x 40 inches), this edition represents one of the finest examples of early large-scale color printing. The new technique of chromolithography was perceived as an advancement in print-making technology that promised to achieve effects entirely different from engraving.
John James Audubon (1785–1851), is renowned for his extraordinary undertaking to record the birds of America. The images he created are icons of nineteenth-century art. Having studied and drawn birds since childhood, in 1819, Audubon followed his passion and fully embraced the life of an artist-naturalist, embarking on a mission to create the Birds of America. He explored the American backwoods and wilderness to discover, record, and illustrate its avian life. It was not until he reached the shores of Great Britain with a portfolio laden with his bird portraits that Audubon found an engraver who could produce his great work in the size of life, as he desired. Together with London engraver, Robert Havell, J. J. Audubon and his family created the lavish double-elephant-size Havell edition of aquatint engravings of The Birds of America, published 1827–38.
Seven years after their father’s death, Audubon’s sons, John Woodhouse Audubon and Victor Gifford Audubon, began an American edition of The Birds of America with Julius Bien, a New York-based printer who was pioneering the field of chromolithography. Bien transferred the images from Havell’s copper plates onto lithographic stones. As many as six printing stages with additional hand-drawn lithography and coloring were used to reproduce subtleties found in the Havell engravings.
As the Havell edition was, the Bien edition was also sold by subscription beginning in 1858. Production was brought to a halt by the advent of the Civil War and only 150 plates on 105 sheets were completed. The Audubon family was unable to complete and sell the edition or recoup their losses, which led to a devastating bankruptcy. The consensus is that fewer than seventy folios were completed.
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