Lisa Thomas, a specialist in the Fine Arts Department at Stair Galleries, has written a wonderful article about collecting Audubon prints, a sampling of which will be made available during their auction this Friday, February 21. You can read an excerpt of the article below...
Painter and naturalist John James Audubon (1785 – 1851) created one of the most comprehensive and detailed catalogues of the birds of the United States, painting every species of bird he could find between 1820 and 1823.
Audubon’s plan was to have each image engraved to create a complete folio, but after finding no financial backing for his project in America, Audubon set sail for England in 1826 where he exhibited his watercolors in Liverpool and Manchester. He eventually landed in Edinburgh where he met the engraver William H. Lizars.
Lizars engraved the first ten or so plates of the collection but was unable to continue, so in 1827 Audubon hired the noted London engraver Robert Havell and his son, Robert Havell Jr. to oversee the project. The resulting engravings with hand-coloring from his iconic Birds of America have been avidly collected since they were first published in a series between 1827 and 1838. Audubon funded the costly printing of the Birds of America