This rare exhibition consists of sixteen spectacular, hand-colored engravings selected from Louisiana State Museum’s collection. John James Audubon drew a number of these works when he lived in New Orleans and also at Oakley Plantation in St. Francisville.
Audubon’s career in the New World began inauspiciously with a series of business failures, sporadic work as an itinerant artist, and a stint as a taxidermist. In 1819, he began working in earnest on a book depicting every species of bird native to the United States. Efforts to secure a publisher in Philadelphia were rebuffed. Audubon traveled to England in 1826, where his watercolors received an enthusiastic reception.
Audubon’s insistence that the birds be portrayed life-sized meant that only double elephant folio sheets, measuring more than two-by-three feet, would suffice. Engraving, etching, aquatinting, and hand coloring 435 enormous copper plates tested the printer’s technical skills and patience. Despite the complications and limited fiscal success, Birds of America was recognized immediately as a staggering scientific and artistic achievement.
On exhibition until December 1.