John James Audubon's Birds of America

ILLUSTRATIONS | AUDUBON THE MAN | AUDUBON THE ARTIST | EXPEDITIONS | EDITIONS | SPECIAL PROGRAMS

 

    Passenger Pidgeon (extinct)
   
Passenger Pigeon (extinct)

AUDUBON EDITIONS

Audubon planned from the beginning to reach a wide audience by reproducing his original watercolors. Examples from the three earliest printed editions are on view in this exhibit.

Havell Edition
Noted for its superb quality in line and color, this first edition was printed by the Havells, a London family experienced in reproducing zoological subjects on paper. They worked 11 years (1827-38) to complete the task. Each print was engraved, aquatinted, and hand colored. The entire set, containing 435 plates depicting 1065 species, was bound in four huge volumes (the largest weighing 56 pounds!). The entire collection sold for the then-staggering sum of $1000.

Bowen Edition
In 1840-44, J.T. Bowen of Philadelphia copies the Havell prints in seven less expensive volumes. His plates, reduced in size and traced, omitted details and lacked the subtle color of the Havell's.

Bien Edition
In 1858, Julius Bien printed one volume using the semi-mechanical process of chromolithography. This brightly colored version is the same size as the Havell's but cost half as much to produce. The outbreak of the civil war halted the project, commissioned by Audubon's son John.

 

ILLUSTRATIONS | AUDUBON THE MAN | AUDUBON THE ARTIST | EXPEDITIONS | EDITIONS | SPECIAL PROGRAMS