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John James Audubon & the Artist as Naturalist

September 27, 2014 – January 5, 2015

John James Audubon, Wild Turkey Cock, Hen and Young
John James Audubon, Wild Turkey Cock, Hen and Young, 1826, oil on linen, 47 1/2 × 59 1/2 in. Photography by Edward C. Robinson III.

This focus exhibition explores Audubon and fellow naturalist-artists’ interest in documenting America’s wildlife and plants. In addition to works by John James Audubon, the exhibition includes works by Mark Catesby, Alexander Wilson, Martin Johnson Heade, and Karl Bodmer. These artists had in common a willingness to take risks and face challenges during their expeditions to remote unexplored areas, and a commitment to create detailed studies of America’s flora and fauna based on first-hand observation.

The main focus of the exhibition is a major new art acquisition: John James Audubon’s oil painting Wild Turkey Cock, Hen and Young (1826). Audubon created oil paintings of his watercolor studies of birds to raise funds and to recruit subscribers for his famous publication The Birds of America (1827–1838). Wild Turkey Cock, Hen and Young, painted during his promotional tour in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1826, was one of his earliest oil paintings related to this major work. The American wild turkey was Audubon’s favorite subject and is the largest species in his publication. Wild Turkey (ca. 1845), on loan from the Gilcrease Museum, is an almost identical copy of the first plate of his book. The exhibition also features the New York Historical Society’s portrait of Audubon by his son John Woodhouse Audubon, as well as Crystal Bridges’ double elephant folio copy of Audubon’s Birds of America, re-issued by his son in 1861.

Learn about John James Audubon in our blog

Celebrating Thanksgiving and Audubon’s Festive Fowls
John James Audubon, Wild Turkey Cock, Hen and Young

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Art & Collection

Black Friday is behind us, yet many of us are still finding ways to get creative with the post-Thanksgiving leftover turkey. Whether you love this traditional holiday fowl or banish…

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John James Audubon, Part 3
John James Audubon, 1826 portrait by John Syme, commissioned by William Home Lizars.

John James Audubon, Part 3

Art & Collection
This is Part Three of a three-part post. Click below to read earlier parts: Part One Part Two Today Crystal Bridges' opens the new temporary exhibition John James Audubon and…
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John James Audubon, Part 2
John James Audubon Self portrait, 1826

John James Audubon, Part 2

Art & Collection
This is part two of a three-part series.  For Part One, click here In 1908, Audubon and his wife Lucy set out for Louisville, Kentucky, to establish a store with…
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John James Audubon, Part 1
John James Audubon

John James Audubon, Part 1

Art & Collection Exhibitions Library
In September, Crystal Bridges will exhibit an oil painting by John James Audubon, created in 1826 while the artist was in Edinburgh, Scotland.  The painting depicts a family of wild…
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Birds, Part III: Birds of a Feather... in the Crystal Bridges Library
Drawing of bird with red head, blue upper body, white under belly, black and white lower body, and black tail feathers

Birds, Part III: Birds of a Feather... in the Crystal Bridges Library

Art & Collection Library

There are so many bird illustration publications that I’ll first list, along with a few images, those works which, along with Wilson and Audubon, made significant contributions to ornithology illustration:…

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Birds, Part II: Big Birds in the Crystal Bridges Library
Drawing of Maryland Yellow Throat

Birds, Part II: Big Birds in the Crystal Bridges Library

Art & Collection Library

This is the second of the Bird blogs. It’s a way to introduce you, our Museum community, to the Library’s wonderful collection of nineteenth-century American color-plate ornithology books. I call…

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Birds, Part I: Early Birds in the Crystal Bridges Library
Drawings of Wood Thrush

Birds, Part I: Early Birds in the Crystal Bridges Library

Art & Collection Library

One of the most enjoyable aspects as Library Director at Crystal Bridges is learning about and sharing our amazing nineteenth-century color-plate book collection with guests. I often talk about the…

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