16 pages, 16 prints
The Birds of America by John James Audubon is one of the best known and most valuable natural history books ever published. The original Double Elephant Folio edition has 435 hand-coloured prints of engravings made from Audubon's original paintings. Apart from being of the highest artistic quality, Audubon's illustrations were exceptional in that they portrayed the birds life-size in natural positions and in their native habitats. The prints were originally issued in 87 sets of five between the years 1827 and 1838, with each set containing one large, one medium, and three small plates.
It is thought that less than 200 complete sets were produced and only 119 of these are known to exist today, the majority bound in four volumes, each approximately over a metre tall. This boxed set contains 16 of the most sought after prints from Audubon's masterpiece. They have been created by disbinding one of the two original sets held by the Natural History Museum, London, photographing the prints using the latest digital technology, and then reproducing them as large as possible on the page and with the original numbering and captions faithfully recreated. On the reverse of each print is an excerpt from the Ornithological Biography that Audubon wrote to accompany the prints.
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John James Audubon was a naturalist and painter and is considered one of the greatest bird artists of all time. Born in Haiti in 1785, he spent much of his life travelling North America observing, catching and drawing birds and animals in remarkable detail.
Using a variety of materials to create a highly dramatic style, he painted almost 500 species of the 700 or so regularly occurring North American bird species. He also painted other animals but it is his life-size illustrations of birds that he is most famous for.