Happy New Year! I know, I'm a little late. I had a fun vacation in Florida, though, and now I'm ready to write about art again. It's worth noting, I think, that I'm beginning this year with my 100th post! If you've never been here before, please flip through the other articles and projects and let me know what you think!
And now, on to John James Audubon...
For John James Audubon, painting began as a hobby. His major interest was studying birds. He was the first person to track the habits of birds by tying string around their ankles. When you go to the zoo, you’ll notice that many of the animals have tags somewhere, maybe clipped to their ears or attached around their legs. Audubon began this.
While he studied birds he made his living by running a general store in Kentucky. He experienced many successful years before the business failed and he had to close his doors. This led him to commit to his study nature and his paint because he now had the time to lend to his passions.
In order to paint and draw the birds, Audubon first killed them and arranged each into a natural position. This may seem like a terrible thing but by killing each bird and studying it before drawing, Audubon was able to create pictures that were more realistic than any done before them.
Audubon could not convince anyone in the United States to publish his drawings so he took them to England. His paintings were combined into a book called Birds of America and he became an instant success among the British who were fascinated by Audubon’s pictures of rural America. He even caught the attention of King George IV who made him a fellow of London’s Royal Society and he spoke at a conference that Charles Darwin attended.
After John James Audubon’s death, the Audubon Society was founded in his honor. The Society now prints the best (in my opinion) nature guides just like Audubon’s Birds of America was the best guide to American birds in its day.
Scattered through this article are copies of Audubon’s original paintings: the Roseate Spoonbill, the White Pelican, and the White Headed Eagle.
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