Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Happy birthday, Mr Audubon

 John James Audubon (April 26, 1785 – January 27, 1851) was a French-American ornithologist, naturalist, hunter and, most famously nowadays, a painter of birds. He painted, catalogued, and described the birds of North America in a manner far superior to any artist before him. Wikipedia provides a short and interesting summary of his life here.

To celebrate his 226th birthday (not a particularly notable or special anniversary, is it?), Google has produced a Google doodle for its home page today, based on his wonderful paintings (a well done to Google - a gold star for effort and good taste!):

Not sure of the copyright of this - the compilation may be (C) Google,
but may be out of copyright as his paintings are well outside of copyright age!

I used one of Audobon's paintings of the now-extinct North American Passenger Pigeon to illustrate an earlier post, here. I grew up very aware of his special talent and wonderful body of work, as Dad had and still has some modern reproductions of some of Audubon's gorgeous bird paintings. Much of Audubon's work can be viewed and explored online now, as U.S. museums and collections progressively put their collections (or images from them) onto online systems. For example, the Houghton Library at Harvard University has a John James Audubon Collection which can be seen online. An introduction to the collection is provided here, and the details and a view of each painting or drawing can be seen here.

Here's a lovely painting of North American blue jays to whet your appetite (Jono - keep your eyes open for these in Canada!):

Or go and google for images by Audubon and enjoy the feast of visual riches...

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