John James Audubon, Pl. 4 Caracara Eagle, hand-colored lithograph, first edition octavo, 1839–44

$135 this week only (list price $200). Offer expires 6-19-2017

Laura Oppenheimer

John James Audubon, Pl. 4 Caracara Eagle, hand-colored lithograph, first edition octavo, 1839–44

Acquire a superb first edition Audubon octavo print from the Birds of AmericaPlate 4, Caracara Eagle, Polyboris vulgaris. after John James Audubon, at a special discount from our already low prices. The current name for this species is Crested Caracara, Caracara cheriway. The plate depicts two Caracaras in motion, showing the upper bird flying toward a lower bird that is clinging to a branch. In this way, Audubon represents the Caracara from all sides, presenting detailed views of the plumage and physical characteristics from both top and bottom of this beautiful bird in a dramatic composition

In the accompanying text, Audubon relates an accounting of his first sighting of this bird."I was not aware of the existence of the Caracara or Brazilian Eagle in the United States, until my visit to the Floridas in the winter of 1831. On the 24th November of that year, in the course of an excursion near the town of St. Augustine, I observed a bird flying at a great elevation, and almost over my head. Convinced that it was unknown to me, and bent on obtaining it, I followed it nearly a mile, when I saw it sail towards the earth, making for a place where a group of Vultures were engaged in devouring a dead horse. Walking up to the horse, I observed the new bird alighted on it, and helping itself freely to the savoury meat beneath its feet; but it evinced a degree of shyness far greater than that of its associates, the Turkey-Buzzards and Carrion Crows."

Lithographed, printed, and colored by J. T. Bowen in Philadelphia. This beautifully hand-colored royal octavo lithograph includes an archival mat. In perfect condition,10.125 x 6.5 inches.

Reference: An Index and Guide to Audubon's Birds of America, Susanne M. Low, 1988, page 89

$135 this week only (list price $200). Offer expires 6-19-17.

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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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