Audubon 2nd Ed. Octavo Pl. 398 Ring-necked Duck

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Hand-colored lithograph, 1856
6 1/2" x 10 1/4" (approximate)


Type of Artwork: Antique Original


Audubon 2nd Ed. Octavo Pl. 398 Ring-necked Duck

Original Antique Print

6 1/2" x 10 1/4" (approximate)
1856
Hand-colored lithograph

The Birds of America Second Octavo Edition

Audubon explored the American backwoods and wilderness to discover, record, and illustrate its avian life. 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 he studied ad drew from nature since childhood, it was not until 1819 when he was the father of two sons that Audubon fully embraced the life of an artist-naturalist with the support of his devoted wife, Lucy Audubon. In 1820, Audubon left his family in Cincinnati, embarking with a young apprentice, Joseph R. Mason. Mason worked with Audubon from 1820 until 1822, contributing mostly botanical elements to about 55 of Audubon’s paintings. Later, the artists George Lehman, Maria Martin, and his sons Victor Gifford Audubon and John Woodhouse Audubon assisted John James Audubon with botanical and landscape backgrounds. Published from 1827—38, the lavish double-elephant-size folio of The Birds of America, spectacularly launched Audubon’s career as an artist-naturalist and publisher of natural history folios depicting North American birds and animals.

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.

Every antique work of art that you purchase at our gallery or on our website is guaranteed to be authentic and of the finest quality. All of our prints include any conservation work required to assure that your acquisition is archivally stable and will last for generations when cared for properly.

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