John James Audubon, 1785-1851, Haiti, New York. Oil on Canvas, laid down on masonite, 39 1/4"h by 26 1/4"w. It has excellent provenance direct from the artist in 1840 and through direct descent to present owner. John James Audubon's entire career was devoted to preserving images of rapidly declining species of birds and wild animals in watercolor and oil. Audubon was born in Santa Domingo (now Haiti) to a French naval officer and his Creole mistress. He was raised in France during the French Revolution. In 1803, Audubon fled with his father to the United States because Napoleon was seeking soldiers for his army.
Although he studied with Jacques-Louis David (France) and John Stein in Natchez, Mississippi, Audubon was largely self-taught as an artist and a scientist. Audubon soon became enthralled with every bird in North America, and he traveled extensively up and down the Ohio and Mississippi River basins and as far south as the Florida Keys to study birds and to produce watercolors in preparation for The Birds of America. From 1819-1839, the ornithologist Audubon catalogued as many species as he could and his notes and paintings are represented in the now-famous John James Audubon: The Watercolors for the Birds of America.The artist, naturalist, explorer, publisher was also an entrepreneur, writer and an active, vocal environmentalist. He realistically and enthusiastically painted wildlife (especially birds) in flying or grounded positions with detailed accuracy and preserved in paint many now-extinct birds for future generations to study and observe. After 1826, Audubon went to Great Britain to raise subscription money and find engravers and publishers for Birds of America, published eventually from 1828-1838 with the help of Scottish engraver William Home Lizars (the early part of the series) and English engraver-publisher Robert Havell, Jr. From 1831-1832, Audubon returned to Florida to paint more birds. From 1845-1848, the series Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America was published and made the reputation of this naturalist.