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435 High Resolution Images from John Audubon’s The Birds of America for Free Download

Plate 171. Barn Owl
Plate 171. Barn Owl
 
 
The National Audubon Society has recently made John James Audubon’s seminal Birds of America available to the public in a downloadable digital library (signing up for their email list is a prerequisite).
 
Birds of America was printed between 1827 and 1838, and was filled prints created from hand-engraved plates based on Audubon’s original watercolor paintings. In addition to the prints, each bird’s page also includes a recording of the animal’s call, plus extensive written texts from the period of the book’s printing.
 
You can browse and download the full set of John James Audubon's landmark watercolor prints here.
 
Audubon is widely lauded as the individual who brought an awareness and appreciation of birds’ beauty and fragility; the National Audubon Society has been active since 1905.
 
 
Portrait of John James Audubon by John Syme, 1826
John James Audubon (1785—1851) was not the first person to attempt to paint and describe all the birds of America (Alexander Wilson has that distinction), but for half a century he was the young country’s dominant wildlife artist. His seminal Birds of America, a collection of 435 hand-coloured, life-size prints, made from engraved plates, measuring around 39 by 26 inches (99 by 66 cm). It includes images of six now-extinct birds: Carolina parakeet, passenger pigeon, Labrador duck, great auk, Eskimo curlew, and pinnated grouse. Art historians describe Audubon's work as being of high quality and printed with "artistic finesse." The plant-life backgrounds of some 50 of the bird studies were painted by Audubon's assistant Joseph Mason but he is not credited for his work in the book. He shot many specimen birds as well as transporting and maintaining supplies for Audubon. Audubon also authored the companion book Ornithological Biographies.
 
 
← Portrait of John James Audubon by John Syme, 1826
 
 
John James Audubon. Painting: George P. A. Healy; Museum of Science, Boston
The Birds of America was first published as a series in sections between 1827 and 1838, in Edinburgh and London. Not all of the specimens illustrated in the work were collected by Audubon himself, some were sent to him by John Kirk Townsend who had collected them on Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth's 1834 expedition with Thomas Nuttall.
 
 
← John James Audubon. Painting: George P. A. Healy; Museum of Science, Boston
 
 
The birds of America : Vol. 5 : from drawings made in the United States and their territories / by John James Audubon, F.R.S., etc. — Published by V. G. Audubon, 1856  The birds of America : Vol. 5 : from drawings made in the United States and their territories / by John James Audubon, F.R.S., etc. — Published by V. G. Audubon, 1856
The birds of America : Vol. 5 : from drawings made in the United States and their territories / by John James Audubon, F.R.S., etc. — Published by V. G. Audubon, 1856. — 346 p., ill. Source: RSL
 
 
Plate 318. American Avocet
Plate 318. American Avocet
 
 
Plate 431. American Flamingo
Plate 431. American Flamingo
 
 
Plate 71. Winter Hawk
Plate 71. Winter Hawk
 
 
Plate 176. Spotted Grouse
Plate 176. Spotted Grouse
 
 
Plate 121. Snowy Owl
Plate 121. Snowy Owl
 
 
Plate 321. Roseate Spoonbill
Plate 321. Roseate Spoonbill
 
 
Plate 366. Iceland, or Jer Falcon
Plate 366. Iceland, or Jer Falcon
 
 
Plate 61. Great Horned Owl
Plate 61. Great Horned Owl
 


 

 
High-resolution images courtesy of the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove, Audubon, PA, and the Montgomery County, PA, Audubon Collection.
 
 
 
 

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