September 27, 2014 through January 5, 2015
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’sBirds of America, re-issued by his son in 1861.
Paul and June Carter Family, Paul and Karen Mahan and
Randy and Valorie Lawson/ Lawco Energy Group
John James Audubon, Wild Turkey Cock, Hen and Young (detail), 1826, oil on linen, 47 1/2 × 59 1/2 in.
Photography by Edward C. Robinson III.