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Buffalo Bill Center of the West Debuts “Audubon and Friends” Exhibit

September 7, 2013 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

Drawing from works both completed and inspired by John James Audubon, “Audubon and Friends” examines the continuing tradition of naturalist illustration.

This exhibit is displayed in the H. Peter and Jeanette Kriendler Gallery located on the mezzanine floor of the Hub of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Audubon's "Eastern Grey Squirrel," 1821. Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming, USA. William E. Weiss Memorial Fund Purchase. 2.98

Audubon’s “Eastern Grey Squirrel,” 1821. Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming, USA. William E. Weiss Memorial Fund Purchase. 2.98

Typically, the naturalist/artist is associated with bird imagery, thanks to his monumental and successful publication, “Birds of America.” However, late in life, his focus turned to mammals, and in an effort to record the mammals of North America, he traveled West—along the Missouri River from St. Louis to Fort Union, Montana—compiling specimens, drawings, and notes that eventually would become the multivolume book, “The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.” Unfortunately, Audubon never saw its completion. It would be his son, John Woodhouse Audubon, who finished his father’s work, along with the Reverend John Bachman, who wrote much of the scientific text as a co-author and editor.

The exhibit showcases the artistic progression of Audubon’s work from 1809 to 1844, best seen in the hand-colored engraving, “Goshawk and Stanley Hawk,” which depicts two birds drawn 20 years apart. Also featured in the collection is the lithograph, “Eastern Grey Squirrel” (right), one of the pieces that Audubon carried with him out West to develop interest in his second publication on mammals. Another interesting piece, which invites comparison between the drawings of father and son, is “American Bison or Buffalo;” although this lithograph is attributed to John James, the stiffened modeling of the bison indicates that the piece was most likely drawn or completed by his son.

“Though unified in subject, the prints range in style and time period, which provides a great opportunity to see how artists were inspired by the birds and wildlife of the country, and specifically of the American West,” Besawcomments. Along with the Audubon prints, the exhibit features lithographs, etchings, and engravings by artists George Catlin, Olive Fell, Paul Pletka, Hans Kleiber, Alexander Phimister Proctor, and others.

For more information on this exhibit and others, visit the Center’s Web site or its Facebook page.

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