Currier Gallery of Art
Entrance to the Currier, photo by John Hazeltine
The Art of a Naturalist: John James Audubon's "Birds of America"
July 1 - September 18, 2000
For the very first time, the Currier Gallery of Art presents its collection of original prints by naturalist John James Audubon. The Art of a Naturalist: John James Audubon's "Birds of America" blends art with science and nature with history -- incorporating feather-soft visual detail with the scientific precision of life-sized renderings, all wrapped up in the remarkable tale of Audubon's quest for a publisher. (left: Rough Legged Falcon, 1833, R. Havell edition, hand colored engraving with aquatint)
Beginning in 1820, John James Audubon painstakingly drew America's birds from specimens he observed in the wild - and some he shot and stuffed. These large and striking prints offer an intimate look at many of the birds that visit or inhabit the forests, woods and marshes of the Granite State. Sponsored by the Bank of NH, with media sponsor 95.7 FM WZID, The Art of a Naturalist: John James Audubon's "Birds of America" runs through September 18, 2000. (right: Belted Kingfisher, 1833, R. Havell edition, hand colored engraving with aquatint)
Determined to depict birds in their natural habitats, Audubon also insisted on using the finest printing methods available at that time. After his quest for a publisher took him from America to Europe, he spent several more years finding enough funds to gut his project into print. Finally, in 1838, London publisher Robert Havell, Jr. finished the last of 435 hand-colored aquatints of Audubon's watercolors, done according to the naturalist's specifications. Julius Bien began a second, less expensive edition of chromolithographs in 1858. (left: Ruffed Grouse, 1833, R. Havell edition, hand colored engraving with aquatint)
The current exhibition at the Currier features over 35 original prints from the Havell edition, along with several Bien prints and one of the original engraved copper plates - with a fascinating history all its own. (left: House Wren, 1833, R. Havell edition, hand colored engraving with aquatint)
An opportunity to compare art with nature arrives Saturday, August 5, with Birding 101: A "Gallery Talk" at the Massabesic Audubon Center. Audubon naturalists will guide participants through a summer visit to the Massabesic Audubon Center. The two-hour walk is geared for those new to bird watching. The field trip starts at 7:30 a.m. in the Currier parking lot, where transportation will be waiting. The cost of transportation and mid-morning refreshments is included in the program fee.
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For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 3/18/11
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