Expensive Bird Pics

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Whilst scanning the newspapers this week, I was amazed to see birds making headline news, not just once, but twice!

On Tuesday, 7th December, Sotheby’s auctioned an original copy of the book, “Birds of America”, by John James Audubon, which sold for a staggering £7,321,250.00, making it the most expensive printed book in the world!

“American Flamingo”, by John James Audubon

Audubon (1785-1851) is regarded as the “Father of Ornithology”. He was born in Haiti, spent his childhood in France, then emigrated to the USA at the age of 18. He painted life-sized illustrations of nearly 500 breeds for his book, some of which are now extinct, including the passenger pigeon, and discovered 25 previously unknown species.

“Passenger Pigeons”, by John James Audubon

Audubon’s method would be unacceptable today, however. He shot the birds, then propped them up on wires in lifelike poses. Each painting took up to 60 hours to create.

John James Audubon

Meanwhile, Bonhams have just released news of a forthcoming sale of 19th century paintings in January. Included in this sale is the beautiful “The Covey at Daybreak”, by Scottish wildlife artist, Archibald Thorburn (1860-1935).

“The Covey at Daybreak”

This is estimated to fetch anything from £100,000 – £150,000.

Thorburn had a life-long love of birds, and was a Vice President of the RSPB (the American equivalent of which, incidentally, is the Audubon Society). Many of his paintings feature game birds, such as ptarmigan, grouse, partridge and pheasant.

Archibald Thorburn

So, if you fancy treating yourself to something different in the January sales, head to Bonhams in New Bond Street, London, on 27 January 2011.

:-))

PS. Here is a link to a site where Audubon’s paintings can be viewed in alphabetical order.

http://web4.audubon.org/bird/boa/boa_index.html

Comments

11 Dec, 2010
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bonkersbon said:

Thanks for this David .. amazing detail and a price to match ! Must have been a seriously expensive book even in its day .I read that he wanted to draw the birds as near to life size as possible and the book was 4ft wide when opened ..guess Kendrick wasnt able to slip this one in his pocket when searching for a reference book .

I suspect the size of it wasnt the only thing that might have put him off ..

11 Dec, 2010
Dipper
david said:

Yes, Bb, definitely not a quick-reference birdspotting guide for Kendrick's pocket, rucksack, etc. Lol!

The techniques employed in producing the book are amazing in themselves, I think. Each painting, because they were life-sized, was reproduced in copper plate form, measuring approx. 39X26 inches (or 99X66 cms).

Despite his very hard efforts, Audubon could not find a willing publisher in the US, and so sailed to England in 1826. Having made himself "known", his book was published, initially without any text, between 1827-28, in Edinburgh and London, in 87 parts!

The cost of this equates to £1,250,000.00 today!

Have added a link to this blog to view the prints in alphabetical order, for free!!! :-)))

As for the Thorburn painting, I have cut out the pic from a free newspaper and put it in a spare frame. Total cost - £0.00! :-D)

11 Dec, 2010
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robashfield said:

Amazing info as usual David.......

12 Dec, 2010
Dipper
david said:

Thanks, Rob! I am enjoying being able to collate all the various info I learn along the way, in one place, as means that I can find it again, very easily. :-))

12 Dec, 2010
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jane said:

Eeek David ! What can I say ??? Do love the "Covey at Daybreak"..is it worth asking Santa ?? Lol

12 Dec, 2010
Dipper
david said:

Not sure whether Santa could deliver this "ray" of sunshine down your chimney, Jane, lol!! Here is the descriptive text on this painting. It is lovely, and am just sorry that I could not find a larger pic in the public domain, to show the finer detail:-

"Three drops of dew lying uneasily upon the blackberry leaves confirm the break of day. A partridge covey awakens upon the autumnal stubble, the old cock bird rasping out his grating greeting to the sunrise far beyond the hill side brow.

"Meanwhile, another covey glides in from a neighbouring field upon which they have spent the autumnal night. In the valley below a farmstead nestles snugly within its patchworked pastures, the harvest safely gathered in amid the barnyard ricks."

John Southern

12 Dec, 2010
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jane said:

Just beautiful David..pure poetry and can see it in my minds eye..off to bed now as work early tomorrow.Take care travelling and stay safe..x

12 Dec, 2010
Dipper
david said:

You, too, folks!!! X

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