Birds of America

Article

October 20, 2021

The Birds of America is an album of life-size illustrations of North American birds by the American naturalist John James Audubon. Reprinted in parts in Edinburgh and London from 1827 to 1838. The illustrations in the album contain images of 1,065 birds belonging to 489 different species. Birds of America sold by subscription in numbers of 5 images each: one large, one medium, and three small. It was planned, according to the project of the album, to form four volumes of one hundred pages, but the number of birds exceeded these volumes, and as a result the album amounted to 435 pages, while the last pages often contain several birds of different species. Fewer than 200 copies were produced. The accompanying text for the album was published separately in the five-volume work "Ornithological Biography" (1831-1839). In addition to the original Havell Edition, printed on double-elephant folio paper in the size of 1003 × 673 mm, Audubon and his sons issued two more editions - the Octavo Edition in 1840-1844 and the Bien Edition in 1859-1860. Birds of America is one of the most revered and highly regarded works of American art. Audubon was the first in the history of the nation to combine art and science, and his ambitious project of describing all the birds of America has shaped the identity of the American naturalist. Since the original work, 20-25 million copies and reproductions of "Birds of America" ​​have been produced, including about 400 thousand high quality images, the price of which can reach several thousand dollars. The first edition is recognized as a masterpiece of the book industry and the greatest bibliographic rarity.

Contents

The Birds of America album contains 435 pages, divided into 87 numbers with 5 images each. The drawings usually depict several life-size birds of the same species in their natural habitat. Birds hunt, feed, care for each other or for chicks; in some images, hunters are depicted with their victims, and sometimes birds of the same species fight with each other for survival. In total, the paintings depict 1,065 birds, which Audubon attributed to 489 different species. Considering numerous repetitions, several hybrids and unidentifiable birds, Susanne M.

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