John James Audubon, Pl. 130 Chestnut-crowned Titmouse, hand-colored lithograph, first edition octavo, 1839–44
Acquire a superb first edition Audubon octavo print from the Birds of America, Plate 130, Chestnut-crowned Titmouse, Parus minimus, Townsend. after John James Audubon, at a special discount from our already low prices. A male and female of the species are depicted perched on a branch from which their nest is suspended. The English naturalist and explorer, Thomas Nuttall (1786–1859), worked with naturalist and ornithologist, John Kirk Townsend (1809–1851), on the expedition to the Columbia River led by Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth in 1834. Nuttall provided Audubon with the bird specimens and the nest represented in this plate.
In the accompanying text, Audubon gives Nuttall's account of this species. "We first observed the arrival of this plain and diminutive species on the banks of the Wahlamet, near the confluence of the Columbia, about the middle of May. Hopping about in the hazel thickets which border the alluvial meadows of the river, they appeared very intent and industriously engaged in a quest of small insects, chirping now and then a slender call of recognition. They generally flew in pairs, but were by no means shy, and kept always in the low bushes or the skirt of the woods. the following day, I heard the makes utter a sort of weak monotonous short and quaint song and about a week afterwards I had the good fortune to find the nest, about which the male was particularly solicitous as almost unerringly to draw me to the spot, where hung from a low bush, about four feet from the ground, his little curious mansion, formed like a round purse, with a round hole for entrance at the summit. It was made chiefly of moss, down, lint of plants, and lined with some feathers."
Lithographed, printed and colored by J. T. Bowen in Philadelphia; initials R. T. in the plate. In perfect condition, this beautifully hand-colored royal octavo lithograph includes an archival mat and measures 10.125 x 6.5 inches.
Reference: John James Audubon, Ornithological Biography, or an account of the habits of the Birds of The United States of America accompanied by descriptions of the objects represented in the work entitled Birds of America, Vol. IV, pages 382–384, 1838.
$95 this week only (list price $125). Offer expires 6-5-17.
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.
To make The Birds of America more affordable and widely available, in 1839 Audubon began the first octavo edition, a smaller version of the folio 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 format.
Like the Havell edition, Audubon’s first octavo edition was sold by subscription and distributed in parts five at a time. However, the octavo editions were issued in proper 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 to 1844.
Though the first edition remains the most desirable, several octavo editions of both the Birds and Quadrupeds were produced. In 1856, a second edition of the Birds was published 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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