John James Audubon

(1785-1851)

John Audubon was born in 1785 in Les Cayes, Haiti. He is the foremost painter of wildlife to date. He had been a bird collector as a boy but undertook the role of shop owner until the age of 35. At this point, Audubon began systematically recording birds in watercolor across the Northeast. He collected all bird specimens and had an assistant to gather flowers and plants to be used in his pictures. In 1826 Audubon traveled to Great Britain in search of a publisher, returning to Florida only during the winter to include more birds in his monumental project. Birds of America was completed and published in 1838. The watercolor illustrations displayed 489 different species and were sold by subscription at $1,000 each. Robert Havellur provided all the engravings to accompany the work. Audubon also published Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America in 1848, which contained 150 more paintings of wildlife.