John James Audubon, Pl. 346 Greenshank, hand-colored lithograph, first edition octavo, 1839–1844

$275 this week only (list price $400). Offer expires 9-25-2017

Laura Oppenheimer

John James Audubon, Pl. 346 Greenshank, hand-colored lithograph, first edition octavo, 1839–1844

Acquire Plate 346, Greenshank, Totanus glottis, Temm., a superb first edition Audubon octavo print after James Audubon from the Birds of America, available this week only at a special discount from our already low prices. 

In the Ornithological Biography, Audubon writes that in 1832 while on Sand Key in Florida he “shot three birds of this species." He first thought that they were Tell-tale Godwits, but “on shewing them to my assistant Mr. Ward, who was acquainted with the Greenshank of Europe, he pronounced them to be of that species, and I have since ascertained the fact by comparison to specimens.”  

However, in her book An Index and Guide to Audubon’s Birds of America, Susanne M. Low writes that Audubon was mistaken. “Audubon’s sighting of this species near Cape Sable, Florida has been regarded as questionable,” she states. “This bird is a Eurasian species. It has been suggested that what Audubon saw was a Greater Yellowlegs, but that species which is depicted in Plate 308, demonstrates that Audubon was perfectly clear about the Yellowlegs' appearance. Audubon made the painting in London, presumably from a preserved specimen in one of the London collections.”

Audubon describes the bird he painted as a male bird. George Lehman supplied the drawing of the view of a St. Augustine, Florida and Spanish fort in East Florida.

Hand-colored royal octavo lithograph, lithographed, printed, and colored by J. T. Bowen in Philadelphia. Excellent color, perfect condition, 6.5 x 10.25 inches. Includes an archival mat.

References: An Index and Guide to Audubon's Birds of America, Susanne M. Low, 1988, page 125; The Birds of America from Drawings Made in the United States and Their Territories, John J. Audubon, Volume IV, 1842, page 321; *The Original Water-color Paintings by John James Audubon for the Birds of America, Introduction by Marshall B. Davidson, 1966,  Vol. 1, plate 18.  

$275 this week only (list price $400). Offer expires 9-25-17.

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America’s most revered artist-naturalist, John James Audubon (1785–1851), is renowned for his extraordinary undertaking to record the birds of America. The images he created are icons of 19th-century art. Though fascinated by nature since childhood, studying and drawing from it, it was not until 1819, when Audubon was 34, that he fully embraced the life of an artist-naturalist. Having found his calling, he set out on a mission to create the Birds of America, exploring the American backwoods and wilderness to discover, record, and illustrate its avian life. Unable to find an engraver in the United States who could produce his great work in the size of life, that issue was resolved when he reached the shores of Great Britain. Together with London engraver, Robert Havell, J. J. Audubon and his family created the lavish double-elephant-size folio of The Birds of America, published from 1827–38.

To make The Birds of America more affordable and widely available, in 1839 Audubon began the first octavo edition, a smaller version of the folio which was printed and hand colored by J. T. Bowen in Philadelphia. Employing a new invention, the camera lucida, the images were reduced in size, rendered in intermediate drawings by Audubon and his son John Woodhouse, and then drawn onto lithographic stones. These miniatures exhibit a remarkable amount of attention to quality and detail, as well as a meticulous fidelity to the larger works. Some compositional changes were made in order to accommodate the smaller format.

Like the Havell edition, Audubon’s first octavo edition was sold by subscription and distributed in parts five at a time. However, the octavo editions were issued in proper phylogenic, or species order. These prints also bear the plate number in the upper right-hand corner and the subscription number in the upper left. The first edition of approximately 1,200 sets was completed in five years from 1839 to 1844.

Though the first edition remains the most desirable, several octavo editions of both the Birds and Quadrupeds were produced. In 1856, a second edition of the Birds was published by Audubon’s son, Victor Gifford. The octavo edition of The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America was first published between 1849 and 1854.

For further information or to purchase, please call the gallery at 312-642-5300.

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