John J. Audubon, Pl. 131 Grizzly Bear, hand-colored lithograph, Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, Bowen edition, Imperial folio, 1845–48
Acquire Plate 131 Grizzly Bear, Ursus ferox, Lewis and Clark, a superb hand-colored lithograph from the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America (1845–48). John James Audubon trained both of his sons to become artists, and enlisted their talents in creating this folio. His younger son, John Woodhouse Audubon, depicted the male grizzly bears. In his formidable composition, the curved vignette of trees to left in the mid-ground and larger pale image of the mountain in the background echo the shape of the two grizzly bears in size relationship, emphasizing the form of "this huge shaggy monster disputing possession of the wilderness against all comers...."
In the accompanying text, John J. Audubon writes of his expedition up the Missouri River to procure specimens for the Quadruped folio, providing a first-hand account of their hunt for the Grizzly Bear.
On the 22d of August, 1843, we killed one of these bears, and as our journals are before us, and thinking it may be of interest, we will extract the account of the day's proceedings.... We were descending the Upper Missouri River. "The weather being fine we left the camp of the previous night early, but made only about twelve miles when the wind arose and prevented our men from making any headway with the oars; we therefore landed under a high bank amongst a number of fallen trees and some drifted timber. All hands went in search of elks. Mr. Culbertson killed a deer, and with the help of Mr. Squires brought the meat to the boat. ...Mr Bell killed a female elk and brought a portion of its flesh to the boat. After resting ourselves a while and eating dinner, Mr. Culbertson and ourselves walked to the banks of the Little Missouri. ...[A]fter which Mr. Culbertson endeavored to penetrate a large thicket in hopes of starting a Grizzly Bear, but found it so entangled with briars and vines he was obliged to desist, and returned very soon. ...As we were approaching the boat we met Mr. Sprague, who informed us he had seen a Grizzly Bear walking along the upper bank of the river, and we went towards the spot as fast as possible. Meantime the Bear had gone down to the water, and was clumsily and slowly proceeding on its way. It was only a few paces from and below us, and was seen by our whole party at the same instant. We all fired and the animal dropped dead without even uttering a groan."
—The Quadrupeds of North America, by John Jame Audubon and The Rev. John Bachman, Volume III, Published by V. G. Audubon, 1854, pgs. 143–144
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 (1812–1862) with backgrounds contributed by Victor Gifford Audubon (1809–1860).
In perfect condition with beautiful original color. Imperial folio size, approximately 22 x 28 inches.
$18,850 this week only (list price $25,000). Offer expires 10-23-17.
John James Audubon’s last major accomplishment was the creation of The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America which was produced in collaboration with his friend, the Reverend John Bachman (1790–1874), a Lutheran minister and naturalist, 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.
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, thus spectacularly launching his career as an artist-naturalist and publisher of natural history folios depicting North American birds and animals.
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