The Audubon Bien Ed. Pl. 342 Spotted Sandpiper & Pl. 243 Solitary Sandpiper is an enchanting example of Audubon’s artistic legacy and technical innovation.
Produced by Audubon’s sons and printed through the innovative technique of chromolithography, this print marks a historic transition in color printing technology. The soft, atmospheric background, vivid colors, and granulated linework breathe the fresh perspective of a new generation into Audubon’s canonical images. Whether your interest lies in art, nature, or history, this chromolithograph is a splendid and multilayered addition to your collection.
About Audubon’s Bien edition of The Birds of America
Produced between 1858 and 1860, the Bien edition of John James Audubon’s The Birds of America is the largest and most valuable color plate book ever published in America and the rarest of all John James Audubon folios. Printed by Julius Bien on double-elephant folio sheets measuring 26 1/2″ x 39″, this edition represents one of the finest examples of early large-scale color printing.
The Bien edition of The Birds of America was initiated by Audubon’s two sons, John Woodhouse and Victor Gifford, several years after his death. Collaborating with New York-based lithographer Julius Bien, they carried on Audubon’s legacy by producing his historic folio through the pioneering medium of chromolithography. In a similar manner to its Havell edition predecessor, the Bien edition was sold by subscription, beginning in 1858. However, production was brought to a halt by the advent of the Civil War and only 150 plates on 105 sheets were completed. The consensus is that fewer than seventy folios were ever completed, making the Bien edition the rarest of Audubon’s folios.
About John James Audubon
America’s most revered artist-naturalist, John James Audubon (1785—1851), is renowned for his extraordinary undertaking to visually record the birds and mammals of North America. His publications The Birds of America & The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America are icons of 19th-century art and capture the nascent stages of American natural history.
Born in 1785 in Les Cayes, Santo Domingo (Haiti) to a Creole mother and French father, Audubon spent the early years of his life in France but moved to America at age 18. It was during this time that his appreciation for birds flourished and he developed a keen artistic acumen for rendering wildlife. It was not until 1819 when Audubon was married and the father of two sons, that he embraced the life of artist-naturalist and embarked on his venture through the backwoods of America with the intent of illustrating the avian life he encountered there.
Audubon’s muti-decade venture resulted in the publication of his monumental folio The Birds of America which documented over 700 bird species on 435 plates. In a similar manner and with the help of his two sons and his friend Reverend John Bachman, Audubon later produced The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, which contained 150 plates depicting the mammals of North America. Audubon’s folios were seismic in the fields of ornithology and mammalogy and set a new precedent for natural history illustration.
For more information about the Audubon Bien Ed. Pl. 342 Spotted Sandpiper & Pl. 243 Solitary Sandpiper, email us at [email protected] or check out our articles Audubon Print Collecting Guide, What are the differences between an Audubon Havell engraving and Bien Lithograph, What is a Lithograph? A Practical Guide to Understanding and Identifying Lithographic Prints, and A Modernist Approach to Understanding a Selection of Prints from Audubon’s Birds of America?