Birds of America
Audubon's Birds of America
‘The Birds of America’ by ornithologist and artist John James Audubon (1785-1851) was first published in full in 1827. With 435 hand-colored plates, the completed work is one of the largest and most expensive publications ever.
His work has inspired Heritage Prints to produce a Special Edition of the engravings by Audubon and – thanks to the cooperation with the Teylers Museum – Heritage Prints has direct access to the set of the original engravings held by the museum.
Audubon’s engravings have so far only been reproduces in the original format (double elephant, 40 x 55 inches) which take up considerable wall space when framed. Heritage Prints has therefore responded to demand and produced a Special Edition of Audubon’s artworks measuring 20 x 27.5 inches (50.8 x 70 cm), approximately half the original size.
This size makes the works of art easier to display and accessible to a much wider audience.
Own your own collection
The original engravings are once again reproduced as high-quality giclées that are indistinguishable from the originals. This Special Edition includes all the Major Birds painted by Audubon (87 in all).
A complete set includes:
- 1 title page
- 1 content page
- 87 prints after the hand-colored originals
- 1 handcrafted Solander Boxes embossed with gold lettering
- A certificate of authenticity
Publication: The Birds of America; from original drawings made during a residence of twenty five years in the United States and their territories (1823-1839)
Author: John James Audubon
Engravers: William Home Lizars, Robert Havell
Publication date: As a series in sections between 1827 and 1838
A complete set includes:
1 title page
1 content page
1 Solander boxe
Certificate of authenticity
Casing: The complete set will be cased in an elegant handcrafted Solander Boxes covered in special linen embossed with golden lettering.
You may choose your own color of the boxes and your own lettering.
Size of the prints: 20 x 27.5 inches (50.8 x 70 cm).
Source of the original: This giclée print is made from a well-preserved original edition of one of the rarest and most expensive books of the world, The Birds of America, owned by the Teylers Museum, the oldest museum of the Netherlands.
About the original: on 26th August 1833 Victor Gifford Audubon sold a complete set of the Birds of America to the Teylers Museum.
Durability: To ensure the durability, the giclée’s are printed on acid-free white etching paper (270 g/m2) with archival ink.
Quality: These prints were photographed using the latest technology, with a color-checker color matched to the original illustration. Printed in the highest possible resolution, the colors of these prints are indistinguishable from the originals when glazed and framed.
Limited Edition: The edition will be limited to 50 sets, numbered 1/50H to 50/50H, signed and stamped with a blind embossing.
Certificate of Authenticity: Included
Shipping and delivery: Read more about shipping and delivery in our FAQ .
The painter and naturalist John James Audubon is widely considered to be one of the greatest bird artists of all time. Audubon changed the way we see the natural world.
Born on his father’s sugar plantation in Haiti in 1785, he was raised in France by his father and French step-mother, following the death of his own mother.
Obsessed by birds
Even as a boy, Audubon was obsessed by birds. He said: “I felt an intimacy with them… bordering on frenzy.” His fascination covered every aspect of the birds’ appearance and habits – from their movements and plumage to their migration and nesting habits.
Although he was expected to join the navy, Audubon suffered from seasickness and with no aptitude for navigation; he failed the officers’ qualification exam.
In 1803, Audubon’s father sent his son to the US to avoid conscription in the Napoleonic Wars; a decision that would change the course of Audubon’s life forever.
In America, Audubon began his mission to study, draw and catalogue North America’s native birds – a project which would later become his greatest work, the book Birds of America.
Using his own unconventional methods, Audubon worked tirelessly to draw birds in their natural poses. Having killed the bird, he used wires to hold the birds in a lifelike pose, often depicting them feeding or hunting. This was a very different approach to other artists at that time who opted to draw stuffed birds in rigid poses.
Audubon’s unorthodox methods and ambition made him unpopular in the American art world and he discovered no engraver or publisher would work with him.
Undeterred, Audubon looked further afield, travelling to England in 1826. Here he was received warmly by the British who loved Audubon’s depictions of North American birds and the landscapes in which they lived.
Audubon toured around England and Scotland, selling subscriptions for his artwork, raising the funds needed to publish his masterpiece Birds of America.
Return to America
Audubon returned to America in 1829 and continued his expeditions to find and draw yet more birds. In his lifetime, Audubon identified 25 new bird species and is also thought to be the first person in America to band birds – tying yarn to their legs to prove that they returned to the same nesting spots each year.
In 1841, Audubon bought a 20-acre estate in northern Manhattan. By 1848, his health was beginning to fail and Audubon died at his family home in January 1851.
Birds of America is the result of Audubon’s mission to paint every bird in North America. The book, which was first published in sections between 1827 and 1838, consists of 435 hand-colored life-size prints made from engraved plates.
When creating his masterpiece, Audubon was determined to represent each bird with a true life-size drawing. As a result, each plate measured around 39.5 inches tall by 28.5 inches wide. With larger birds, such as the flamingo or the heron, this often meant contorting the specimen into particular positions with necks bent down, as though hunting or feeding. The collection also includes six birds which are now extinct.
The original edition of Birds of America was printed on handmade paper using copperplate etching, engraving and aquatint techniques with color applied by a large team of colorists. The original edition is sometimes called the Havell Edition after its printer or the ‘Double Elephant Folio’ in reference to its size.
In March 2000, a copy of Birds of America sold at auction at Christie’s for $8.8 million, setting a new record for the sale of any book at auction. Since then, a complete copy of the first edition sold at Sotheby’s for over $11 million.
From the tiny goldfinch to the imposing vulture; Audubon’s collection captures the unique character of each bird, making his work just as popular today as it was when first published.
We know how special it is to own a piece from your favorite artist; a piece that will be a real talking point in your home.
That is why each edition is limited to just 50 prints. These are numbered from 1/50 to 50/50H and are signed and stamped with a blind embossing.
So when you choose prints from Heritage Prints, you know your artwork has been printed with great care and in limited numbers, making it a print only a select few will own.
When you invest in our prints or collections, you will receive a certificate of authenticity.
This provides a lasting record of your artwork and gives you valuable certification if you ever wish to sell or bestow your collection in the future.
When investing in a complete set, our Solander box is the perfect place to store your collection.
The box is covered with library buckram cloth and is fitted with a card holder to the spine with attaché fasteners.
This elegant, high-quality box is designed especially for keeping your prints safe and in perfect condition – yet you can still easily look at them whenever you wish.
Audubon - Birds of America - View the prints below
Heritage Prints has a master copy of all Audubon’s images. But we do not have every certified giclee print in stock.
If you cannot find a specific work on our website, please contact us directly and we will start the rigorous process of printing your individual facsimile.
Audubon 001 Wild Turkey (Special Edition)$ 295.00
Audubon 006 Wild Turkey. Female and Young (Special Edition)$ 295.00
Audubon 011 Bird of Washington (Special Edition)$ 295.00
Audubon 016 Great-footed Hawk (Special Edition)$ 295.00
Audubon 021 Mocking Bird (Special Edition)$ 295.00
Audubon 026 Carolina Parrot (Special Edition)$ 295.00
Audubon 031 White-headed Eagle (Special Edition)$ 295.00
Audubon 036 Stanley Hawk (Special Edition)$ 295.00
Audubon 041 Ruffed Grouse (Special Edition)$ 295.00
Audubon 046 Barred Owl (Special Edition)$ 295.00
Audubon 051 Red-tailed Hawk (Special Edition)$ 295.00
Audubon 056 Red-shouldered Hawk (Special Edition)$ 295.00
Audubon 061 Great Horned Owl (Special Edition)$ 295.00
Audubon 066 Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Special Edition)$ 295.00
Audubon 071 Winter Hawk (Special Edition)$ 295.00
Audubon 076 Virginian Patridge (Special Edition)$ 295.00