John James Audubon (1785 – 1851) was a noted artist from the 19th century who is best known for his seminal illustrated book titled ‘Birds of America’. The iconic book contained 435 gorgeous hand-colored watercolor paintings depicting a wide variety of American bird species.
Interestingly, Audubon wasn’t a trained naturalist, but his passionate love for birds made him perfect his art. ‘Birds of America’ was printed between 1827 and 1838 and included hand-engraved plates from the artist’s original watercolor paintings. This book is said to have brought extensive awareness and appreciation for the beauty of birds all over the world. Furthermore, it is also believed to have started off the practice of naturalistic representations of animals in watercolor.
Audubon’s paintings include elaborate details of the subject, which made them appear almost life-like. His way of working was unique, too. He used a system of wires and pins to set up each specimen in a life-like posture and then go paint them on paper. When his works were displayed at an exhibition at the New-York Historical Society in 2014, the blurb read: “the watercolors possess a startling immediacy and a freshness that underline his genius in linking natural history and art, as well as a respect for the environment.”
Thankfully, all the paintings from Audubon’s ‘Birds of America’ have now been made public in a downloadable digital library, and you can view all the 435 delightful illustrations on the National Audubon Society website. Here, we have presented some of the best works of the artist from his famous book. These are truly magnificent paintings, and lovers of art and nature are sure to be pleased by them.