Audubon, John James

orig. Fougère Rabin or Jean Rabin later Jean-Jacques Fougère Audubon

born April 26, 1785, Les Cayes, Saint-Domingue, West Indies
died Jan. 27, 1851, New York, N.Y., U.S.

U.S. ornithologist, artist, and naturalist known for his drawings and paintings of North American birds.

Born to a French merchant in Haiti, he returned with his father to France, where he briefly studied painting with Jacques-Louis David before moving to the U.S. at age 18. From his father's Pennsylvania estate, he made the first American bird-banding experiments. After failing in business ventures, he concentrated on drawing and studying birds, which took him from Florida to Labrador. His extraordinary four-volume Birds of America was published in London in 1827–38. He simultaneously published the extensive accompanying text Ornithological Biography (5 vol., 1831–39). His multivolume Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America (1842–54) was completed by his sons. Though his bird poses are sometimes unrealistic (the result of painting dead birds wired into position) and some details are inaccurate, few argue with the excellence of his illustrations as art, and his studies were fundamental to New World ornithology.

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▪ American artist
original name  Fougère Rabin, or Jean Rabin,  baptismal name  Jean-jacques Fougère Audubon  
born April 26, 1785, Les Cayes, Saint-Domingue, West Indies [now in Haiti]
died Jan. 27, 1851, New York, N.Y., U.S.
 ornithologist, artist, and naturalist who became particularly well known for his drawings and paintings of North American birds.

      The illegitimate son of a French merchant, planter, and slave trader and a Creole woman of Saint-Domingue, Audubon and his illegitimate half-sister (who was also born in the West Indies) were legalized by adoption in 1794, five years after their father returned to France. Young Audubon developed an interest in drawing birds during his boyhood in France. At age 18 he was sent to the United States in order to avoid conscription and to enter business. He began his study of North American birds at that time; this study would eventually lead him from Florida to Labrador, Can. With Frederick Rozier, Audubon attempted to operate a mine, then a general store. The latter venture they attempted first in Louisville, Ky., later in Henderson, Ky., but the partnership was dissolved after they failed utterly. Audubon then attempted some business ventures in partnership with his brother-in-law; these, too, failed. By 1820 he had begun to take what jobs he could to provide a living and to concentrate on his steadily growing interest in drawing birds; he worked for a time as a taxidermist, later making portraits and teaching drawing, while his wife worked as a governess.

      By 1824 he began to consider publication of his bird drawings, but he was advised to seek a publisher in Europe, where he would find better engravers and greater interest in his subject. In 1826 he went to Europe in search of patrons and a publisher. He was well received in Edinburgh and, after the king subscribed for his books, in London as well. The engraver Robert Havell of London undertook publication of his illustrations as The Birds of America, 4 vol. (435 hand-coloured plates, 1827–38). William MacGillivray helped write the accompanying text, Ornithological Biography, 5 vol. (octavo, 1831–39), and A Synopsis of the Birds of North America, 1 vol. (1839), which serves as an index. Until 1839 Audubon divided his time between Europe and the United States, gathering material, completing illustrations, and financing publication through subscription. His reputation established, Audubon then settled in New York City and prepared a smaller edition of his Birds of America, 7 vol. (octavo, 1840–44), and a new work, Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, 3 vol. (150 plates, 1845–48), and the accompanying text (3 vol., 1846–53), completed with the aid of his sons and the naturalist John Bachman.

      Critics of Audubon's work have pointed to certain fanciful (or even impossible) poses and inaccurate details, but few argue with their excellence as art. To many, Audubon's work far surpasses that of his contemporary (and more scientific) fellow ornithologist, Alexander Wilson.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Audubon,John James — Au·du·bon (ôʹdə bŏn , bən), John James. 1785 1851. Haitian born American ornithologist and artist whose extensive observations of eastern North American avifauna led to the publication of The Birds of America (1827 1838), a collection of his… …   Universalium

  • Audubon , John James — (1785–1851) American ornithologist and naturalist The illegitimate son of a French sea captain and his Creole mistress, Audubon was born in Les Cayes on the Caribbean island of Haiti and was brought up in Nantes in his father s family. He studied …   Scientists

  • Audubon, John James — ► (1785 1851) Naturalista estadounidense. Destaca por sus estudios acerca de los pájaros y cuadrúpedos de América. * * * orig. Fougère Rabin o Jean Rabin post. Jean Jacques Fougère Audubon (26 abr. 1785, Les Cayes, Saint Domingue, Indias… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Audubon, John James —  (1785–1851) American artist and naturalist …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • John James Audubon — John James Audubon, mit vollem Namen John James La Forest Audubon, (* 26. April 1785 in Les Cayes, Haiti; † 27. Januar 1851 in New York) war ein US amerikanischer Ornithologe und Zeichner. Sein Hauptwerk ist Die Vögel Amerikas. Er beschrieb auch… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • John James Audubon — Nacimiento 26 de abril 1785 Les Cayes, Saint Domingue (actual …   Wikipedia Español

  • John James LaForest Audubon — John James Audubon John James La Forest Audubon (* 26. April 1785 in Les Cayes, Haiti; † 27. Januar 1851 in New York) war ein US amerikanischer Ornithologe und Zeichner. Sein Hauptwerk sind Die Vögel Amerikas …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • John James La Forest Audubon — John James Audubon John James La Forest Audubon (* 26. April 1785 in Les Cayes, Haiti; † 27. Januar 1851 in New York) war ein US amerikanischer Ornithologe und Zeichner. Sein Hauptwerk sind Die Vögel Amerikas …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • John James Audubon — Pour les articles homonymes, voir John, James et Audubon. John James Audubon John James Audubon (ou Jean Jacques …   Wikipédia en Français

  • John James Audubon — Infobox Person name = John James Audubon image size = 150px caption = birth date = April 26, 1785 birth place = Les Cayes, Haiti (then called : Saint Domingue) death date = Dda|1851|1|27|1785|4|26 death place = Manhattan, New York occupation =… …   Wikipedia

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