In 1863,Lucy Audubon sold the core collection of Audubon material still in the family's possession to the New-York HIstorical Society, New York's first museum. The collection was formidiable. In addition to artifacts and family memorabilia, it included the most important comprehensive collection of one of the greatest nineteenth-century American artists-471 of John James Audubon's original watercolors, of which 435 were preparatory for The Birds of America.
The New-York Historical Society and Oppenheimer Editions have an exclusive agreement to publish 200 numbered actual-size sets, a first and special edition to be known as The New-York Historical Society Edition of Audubon's Fifty Best Watercolors. The prints in the New-York Historical Society Edition are re-creations of the watercolors that Audubon made prior to the publication of the double elephant folio Havell engravings of The Birds of America.
Printed with Archival pigments on 100% ragwatercolor paper, these prints directly capture the artist's hand and fundamental vision, unlike any publication before. Each image is individually sized to match the exact dimensions of the original painting. This is an actual-size first edition printing of Audubon's watercolors and will assume an important position among the collectible editions of Audubon's work. In addition to this being an actual-size first edition printing, there are four images amonng the 50 that are presented in this edition that have never before been published as works of art.
Audubon's fifty Best Watercolors offers collectors a unique opportunity to own a virtual replica in printed form of one of these historic originals. The New-York Historical Society Edition of Audubon's watercolors is limited to 200 sets, which coincides with the same number of folios that Audubon produced for the Havell Edition of hand-colored engravings.