Friday, April 26, 2013

228th Birth Anniversary of John James Audubon

John James Audubon by John Syme - portrait
located at the White House (public domain)
One of the world's greatest ornithologists, Audubon was also a leading naturalist and artist. He painted over 400 true to life works of art depicting the birds he encountered. His body of work forms a significant contribution to the field of ornithology, which was made possible by shooting the birds first and then painting them. It seems harsh today, since we shoot birds with cameras now, but in earlier times, when cameras couldn't zoom or display color, it was the only way to create an accurate portrait. Many naturalists of his time adhered to the maxim, “What's hit's history: what's missed's mystery.” The University of Pittsburgh is one of the few institutions to own a rare and complete set of Audubon's Birds of America plates. The entire collection has been digitized and can be viewed online; the images are of very high resolution and quality. Wikimedia Commons also displays Audubon images, and they are also very hi-res. Audubon painted his birds not only in great detail, but also with some feeling for the character of each breed. He did observe how dedicated birds were to their offspring and portrayed them beautifully in their natural setting.
Audubon's Ivory-billed Woodpecker
Google doodle for Audubon's 226th anniversary

Audubon's Goosander

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