Audubon Bowen Octavo Pl. 91, Polar Bear
Oppenheimer Editions Print
7 1/8" x 10 5/8" (print size)
3/4" gold metal leaf frame with archival rag mat and UV resistant glazing (12 1/2" x 15 1/2" frame size)
Limited edition of 500
Blind embossed with the Oppenheimer Editions logo
The Quadrupeds of North America, The Royal Octavo Edition—Published by Oppenheimer Editions
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, John James 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.
To make The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America more affordable and widely available, the octavo edition, a smaller version of the folio, was first published between 1849 and 1854. Printed 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 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. These prints also bear the plate number in the upper right-hand corner and the subscription number in the upper left. Many of the mammals were drawn by John Woodhouse Audubon with backgrounds contributed by Victor Gifford Audubon.
John James Audubon explored the American backwoods and wilderness to discover, record, and illustrate its avian life. 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. The images he created are icons of 19th-century art. Fascinated by nature since childhood, it was not until 1819, when he was the father of two sons, that John James Audubon fully embraced the life of an artist-naturalist. In 1820, John James Audubon left his family in Cincinnati, embarking with a young apprentice, Joseph R. Mason. Mason worked with John James Audubon from 1820 until 1822, contributing mostly botanical elements to about 55 of John James Audubon’s paintings. Later, the artists George Lehman, Maria Martin, and his sons Victor Gifford Audubon and John Woodhouse Audubon assisted John James Audubon with botanical and landscape backgrounds.
Though the first edition remains the most desirable, several octavo editions of both the The Birds of America and The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America were produced. In 1856, a second edition of the Birds was published by John James Audubon’s son, Victor Gifford. The octavo edition of The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America was first published between 1849 and 1854.
Established in 1999, Oppenheimer Editions has partnered with prestigious museums to make prints from their holdings. Works from the New-York Historical Society’s unrivaled collections of John James Audubon’s watercolors and the Hudson River School paintings are examples of art that otherwise would be unobtainable. Among the institutional collections we have partnered with are the American Museum of Natural History, the Field Museum, and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. These are not mere reproductions. They are limited-edition fine art prints made with the finest quality archival pigments on rag watercolor paper and executed to exacting standards.