This plate by Audubon shows the Red-Breasted Merganser (plate 401). Both the male and the female are depicted. It is a pity that you cannot see the image in full size, because then you would see the fine details that Audubon painted with watercolor.
Sparkling and shining watercolor
The female looks gray at first glance, but on the life-size plate you can see the beautiful green of the plumage in shining brilliance, as only bird feathers can sparkle and shine. You see the same beauty in the feathers on the head of the male, which is shown in watercolor below the female. Audubon painted the feathers really precisely and accurately. His works are thus a combination of both technical, natural painting as well as artistic greatness.
The Birds of America
Audubon’s original book “The Birds of America” contains both the beautiful paintings and the text describing the habitat and behavior of the birds. You can find this text in the digital library of the University of Pittsburgh.
Audubon writes about the Red-Breasted Merganser:
“The range of the Red-breasted Merganser is fixed extent. In North America I have found it pretty generally dispersed during winter and even to a late period in spring, from the Texas to Labrador; and in the Fauna Boreali-Americana Mr Swainson describes a male killed on the Saskatchewan. No date is mentioned, nor is anything said as to its habits, which would lead me to believe that it must be a rare bird in the Fur Countries. […] ”
About its character, Audubon writes:
“The Red-breased Merganser is a shy bird. The males especially are extremely suspicious and vigilant […] ”
Audubon even says something about the bird’s taste:
“The flesh of this bird is tough, and has a fishy taste.”
Sparkling facsimile giclée prints
The facsimile giclée prints that Heritage Prints produce are a perfect reproduction of the original. The colors of our giclée prints sparkle and shine like they do on the original plates.
If you are interested in these sparkling colors, please visit our website and take a look at the Red-breasted Merganser.