Audubon, the fledgling

Slideshow: A new book showcases the early drawings of an eventual master

Margaret Guthrie
Oct 1, 2008
Jean-Jacques Audubon was born in 1785 in what is now linkurl:Haiti,;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/54367/ the son to a plantation owner and one of his servants. His father, sensing the impending slave rebellion, sold the plantation, invested the money in a farm north of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, and took his son back to France. It was there the young Audubon's interest in linkurl:birds;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54775/ was first piqued on walks with his father. In 1803 his father sent him to America using a false passport to escape conscription in linkurl:Napoleon's;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22107/ army. With his new, Americanized name, John James Audubon settled at Mill Grove, the farm his father had purchased in Pennsylvania, and began to draw American birds as he had the European species near his home outside Nantes.__Audubon: Early Drawings__, is a splendid display of some of the young naturalist's first bird drawings, most dating from 1805-1815. This hardcover volume includes the first public glimpses of...
and one of his servants. His father, sensing the impending slave rebellion, sold the plantation, invested the money in a farm north of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, and took his son back to France. It was there the young Audubon's interest in linkurl:birds;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54775/ was first piqued on walks with his father. In 1803 his father sent him to America using a false passport to escape conscription in linkurl:Napoleon's;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22107/ army. With his new, Americanized name, John James Audubon settled at Mill Grove, the farm his father had purchased in Pennsylvania, and began to draw American birds as he had the European species near his home outside Nantes.__Audubon: Early Drawings__, is a splendid display of some of the young naturalist's first bird drawings, most dating from 1805-1815. This hardcover volume includes the first public glimpses of drawings currently housed at linkurl:Harvard University's Houghton Library and Museum of Comparative Zoology.;http://hcl.harvard.edu/libraries/houghton/collections/modern/audubon.html They illustrate Audubon's talents as an observer of living things and as a burgeoning artist. An introduction on the sources of Audubon's art from biographer linkurl:Richard Rhodes,;http://www.richardrhodes.com/ and commentary on ornithology and Audubon's scientific career by Harvard evolutionary biologist Scott V. Edwards, accompanies the drawings. From Edwards' essay, "Audubon the Scientist:"__"Like historians, evolutionary biologists are fascinated by origins. From our perspective, if we view only the drawings that were printed in Audubon's __Birds of America__, the culmination of his forty-year artistic evolution, we miss the insight that comes with seeking out his earliest artistic and documentary efforts....as in the study of evolution itself, the fascination comes in the comparison of these early works with what came later and in the detection of inklings of majesty in these modest, earnest efforts.Audubon's ability to transform his self-taught skills into works of art and literature that had such a profound and lasting impact on American society and generations of naturalists is a testament to his genius."__The book hit shelves on September 30, and even with its hefty price tag (it retails for $125), it makes a handsome addition to the library of any bird lover, science enthusiast, or Audubon groupie.

Slideshow: Audubon's Early Work

Audubon's Early Work

To view the slideshow in a separate window, click linkurl:here.;http://images.the-scientist.com/content/images/slideshows/audubon/audubon.html linkurl:____Audubon: Early Drawings__.;http://www.oeb.harvard.edu/faculty/edwards/people/edwards.htm Introduction by Richard Rhodes, Annotation by Scott V. Edwards, Foreword by Leslie A. Morris, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2008. 288 pp. 116 color illustrations, ISBN - 978-0-674-03102-9. $125.00.__

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