Alex Ruppenthal | April 29, 2019 4:54 pm
The groundbreaking book “Birds of America” is now on display at the Field Museum.
The book was published between 1827 and 1838 by John James Audubon, a painter and ornithologist who in 1826 set out to illustrate every bird in North America. Audubon discovered more than 100 bird species during his 12-year mission and even drew some species that have since gone extinct, such as whooping cranes and passenger pigeons.
Audubon’s book features intricate and detailed life-size watercolor paintings of nearly every bird on the continent, and is recognized for its permanent influence on the art of wildlife illustration.
“At a time when photography was still at its infancy and not accessible for most, scientific journals heavily relied on paintings and drawings to illustrate animals,” said Diana Duncan, the Field Museum’s technical services librarian, in a statement. “Birds were not seen as art subjects, so Audubon’s unique and beautiful, life-size renderings were impactful not only in the scientific community for capturing the birds at their most natural but also in the art world.”