First published in installments between 1827 and 1838, John James Audubon’s collection of life-sized watercolors of North American birds is the standard against which all wildlife illustration is measured. Fewer than 120 copies survive today, locked away in museums and private collections around the world. For this volume, the Natural History Museum in London disbound one of the two original editions it owns, and each of the 435 exquisite hand-colored prints of the original watercolours were photographed using the latest digital scanning technology. From an avocet grazing in a tidal pond to a zenaida dove perched on a flowering branch, each of Audubon’s subjects is depicted with the grace and beauty of a living bird in its natural habitat. An avid outdoorsman and explorer, Audubon traveled from Florida to Labrador to Texas and the Dakotas to study and collect his specimens. Straddling the line between science and art, this book mesmerized 19th-century audiences around the world; today it stands as a reminder of the spectacular biodiversity of the North American continent, and of the pioneer spirit that Audubon himself revered.
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