Audubon 1st Ed. Octavo Pl. 46 White-bellied Swallow

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Original 1st Edition, Hand-Colored Lithograph
Paper Size: Royal Octavo
Production Date: 1840
Lithographer: J. T. Bowen

Type of Artwork: Antique Original

Audubon 1st Ed. Octavo Pl. 46 White-bellied Swallow

Original Antique Print

J.T. Bowen Hand-colored Lithograph, 1840

About the Audubon Octavo Edition

Audubon's desire to make The Birds of America more affordable and widely available prompted him in 1839 to begin the first octavo edition, which was printed and hand colored by J. T. Bowen in Philadelphia.

Employing a new invention, the camera lucida, the images were reduced in size, rendered in intermediate drawings by Audubon and his son John Woodhouse, and then drawn onto lithographic stones. These miniatures exhibit a remarkable amount of attention to quality and detail, as well as a meticulous fidelity to the larger works. Some compositional changes were made in order to accommodate the smaller size.

Audubon's first octavo edition, like the Havell Edition, was sold by subscription and distributed in parts five at a time. However, the octavo editions were issued in correct phylogenic, or species order. These prints also bear the plate number in the upper right-hand corner and the subscription number in the upper left. The first edition of approximately 1,200 sets was completed in five years from 1839-1844.

Though the first edition remains the most desirable, several octavo editions of both the Birds and Quadrupeds were produced. A second edition of the Birds was published in 1856 by Audubon's son, Victor Gifford. The octavo edition of The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America was first published between 1849 and 1854.

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