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Item #35435 Common American Wild-Cat [Male] from The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. John James AUDUBON, Reverend John BACHMAN, Naturalist.

AUDUBON, John James (1785-1851), BACHMAN, Reverend John (1790-1874, Naturalist)

Common American Wild-Cat [Male] from The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America

[1] New York: John James Audubon, [1842] 1845. Hand-colored lithograph by John T. Bowen of Philadelphia after a watercolor from nature by Audubon. Sheet: (21 1/2 x 27 3/8 inches).

A sublime image of a bobcat from the greatest 19th-century work of natural history illustration produced in America, Audubon's "Viviparous Quadrupeds."

This fine plate is from the Imperial folio edition of Audubon's The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, which was produced entirely in the United States. The American Wild-Cat was the first plate produced for the book and it reflects Audubon's unerring sense of the dramatic. This is the Wild-Cat as he is encountered: fierce, ready to attack, and fearsomely beautiful. This first plate also demonstrates an aspect of the work not often acknowledged: Audubon had been persuaded to produce the prints using lithography rather than copperplate etching, as in The Birds of America, by John T. Bowen, who guaranteed that the fur of the animals depicted would be as fine as they would have been had they been etched. Clearly, Bowen proved his point in this splendid image. The production of the Quadrupeds was begun by Audubon, his sons, and the naturalist Reverend John Bachman at about the same time as the commercially-successful octavo edition of The Birds of America. Unlike the double-elephant folio, the Quadrupeds was produced entirely in the United States. Reese notes that "By 1843 the Audubon family business was a well-oiled machine, involving John James, his two sons, and various in-laws and friends. The octavo Birds was still in production when Bowen began to produce the plates for the elephant folio edition of the Quadrupeds, the largest successful color-plate book project of nineteenth-century America. It took the family five years to publish 150 plates in thirty parts. The massive project was a commercial success, thanks to the close management of Victor. There were about three hundred subscribers." [Reese] Like Birds of America, the Viviparous Quadrupeds was intended to be a comprehensive visual catalog of North America animalia, with Audubon's focus here shifting from birds to four-legged land mammals. Accompanying each image was correlating didactic text, written primarily by Bachman, that informed the reader of the animal's habits, diet, habitat, and gestational period. Totaling 150 prints, the project was rushed to completion as Audubon's health declined. Emerging in the shadow of its acclaimed predecessor, Birds of America, the Viviparous Quadrupeds has not received the adequate attention nor recognition it so richly deserves. This image of the Lynx rufus, or bobcat, is rendered at 3/4th scale and was executed in 1842, three years prior to publication.

Bennett, p.5. Reese, Stamped with a National Character 36. Sabin 2367. Wood, p.209.

Item #35435

Price: $10,000.00

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