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AUDUBON, John James (1785-1851)

Great Horned Owl from The Birds of America

[Pl. LXI] London: John James Audubon. Hand-colored etching with aquatint and line-engraving by Robert Havell, Jr., after a watercolor from nature by Audubon. Sheet: (38 1/8 x 25 inches).

The Great Horned Owl from the first edition of Audubon's "The Birds of America."

"The flight of the Great Horned Owl is elevated, rapid, and graceful. It sails with apparent ease, and in large circles, in the manner of an eagle, rises and descends without the least difficulty, by merely inclining its wings or its tail, as it passes through the air. Now and then, it glides silently close over the earth, with incomparable velocity, and drops, as if shot dead, on the prey beneath. At other times, it suddenly alights on the top of a fence-stake or a dead stump, shakes its feathers, arranges them, and utters a shriek so horrid that the woods around echo to its dismal sound." - Audubon The nocturnal Great Horned Owl, named after the angular horn-like feather tufts on its head and known for its deep hoot and piercing yellow eyes, can be found year-round throughout the United States and Canada, as well as across Central and South America. The Great Horned Owl can adapt to diverse habitats, making it one of the most common owls in North America, and its diet is equally variable, as they consume a wide variety of prey, from frogs and falcons, to snakes and skunks. Low writes of Audubon's "Great Horned Owl" that the "painting and plate depict a female, upper left, and male, lower right, on dead lichen-covered branches. The male was painted separately, cut out, and pasted on the paper, and then the drawing was completed. 'Henderson, KY. Sept. 31, 1814' is written on the painting. The date may refer to the male." Audubon was born in Les Cayes, Haiti, on April 26, 1785. From 1788 to 1803 he lived in France until he was sent to the United States to manage an estate that his father bought in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Audubon returned to France in 1805, but his fascination with the United States had taken root and he returned again in May 1806. He married Lucy Bakewell in 1808 and together they struggled through a difficult financial period that was only resolved through Audubon's unshakable and justified belief in his own abilities, and the publication of his masterpiece The Birds of America, from which the present print comes, in 1827-1838. The Birds of America is the single greatest ornithological work ever produced. It is the realization of Audubon's dream of traveling throughout the United States recording, in their natural size, every native bird then known. The 435 double-elephant-folio plates, printed by the Havells of London, depict some 1,065 different species, the majority drawn from specimens that Audubon himself captured. This print is from the first edition.

Low, A Guide to Audubon's Birds of America 64.

Item #38244

Price: $32,000.00

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