John J. Audubon, Pl. 128 Rocky Mountain Goat

The Viviparous Quadruped of North America, Bowen edition, 1845-48

Laura Oppenheimer

John J. Audubon, Pl. 128 Rocky Mountain Goat, The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, Bowen edition, 1845–48

Plate 128 Rocky Mountain Goat, Capra Americana (Blainville), a hand-colored lithograph after J. J. Audubon from the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America (1845–48).

The accompanying text states that “[t]he Rocky Mountain Goat wanders over the most precipitous rocks, and springs with great activity from crag to crag, feeding on the plants, grasses, and mosses of the mountain sides, and seldom or never descends to the luxuriant valleys as the Big-Horn does.” A male and female are depicted “standing at gaze,” on a table-rock projecting high above the valley beyond, with a lofty ridge in the background.” In perfect condition with beautiful original color. Imperial folio size, 22 x 28 inches. 

John James Audubon’s last major accomplishment was the creation of The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America which was produced in collaboration with the Reverend John Bachman, who wrote the accompanying text. In the summer of 1843, Audubon embarked with his son, John Woodhouse, on a final drawing expedition up the Missouri River to document and depict the four-legged mammals of North America.

Produced from 1845 to 1848 by the distinguished Philadelphia print maker, John T. Bowen, the set of 150 black-and-white lithographs was completely hand colored. Lithography proved an excellent medium for depicting the tactile realism of the mammals’ fur. These prints were published in imperial folio size, measuring 22 by 28 inches. Acclaimed as the definitive nineteenth-century work in the field of American mammalogy, many of the mammals were drawn by John Woodhouse Audubon with backgrounds contributed by Victor Gifford Audubon.

America’s most revered artist-naturalist, John James Audubon (1785–1851), is renowned for his extraordinary undertaking to record the birds of America. The images he created are icons of 19th-century art. Though fascinated by nature since childhood, studying and drawing from it, it was not until 1819, when Audubon  was 34, that he fully embraced the life of an artist-naturalist. Having found his calling, he set out on a mission to create the Birds of America, exploring the American backwoods and wilderness to discover, record, and illustrate its avian life. Unable to find an engraver in the United States who could produce his great work in the size of life, that issue was resolved when he reached the shores of Great Britain. Together with London engraver, Robert Havell, J. J. Audubon and his family created the lavish double-elephant-size folio of The Birds of America, published from 1827–38.