The history….. Once, in the not so distant past, this tiny flock formed part of the personal collection of a prominent medical doctor from Dallas, Texas. This gentleman served and taught at Baylor Hospital and was one of the original Doctors for the Dallas Cowboys football team. His collection included these perky, 1st edition Audubon engravings, printed by Robert Havell, plate 72. The Winter Wren and Rock Wren and Plate 74. The Mountain Mocking Bird with a pair of Varied Thrush.
So beautiful, yet, so old; these were made around 1837 so today, they are just under 200 years old. These prints are so old that they could have been hanging on a wall where Abraham Lincoln was speaking or witnessing the birth of painter Edgar Degas. It blows my mind to think that everything was made by hand, from the paper pulp to the ground paint pigments and engraving and pressing equipment.
Really appreciate Audubon’s precision, because he was a man obsessed with illustrating the Birds of America in an age before cameras, air-conditioned campers, batteries, anything that uses batteries, regular indoor plumbing and trash collection…. oh the smells… but I digress... enjoy this detail of Audubon's delightful Wrens in from Plate 72
He traversed the countryside without electricity, at the very dawn of the telegraph and the photograph; all for the sole purpose of illustrating and describing birds.
In their time, Audubon’s images were popular because his folios provided the best source of reference for anyone who wanted to expand their knowledge beyond their homes towns. Without Audubon, how could anyone imagine a roseate spoonbill existing in nature?
Audubon’s prints are still popular for the same reasons as when they were first published; artisan-ship, exoticism and who doesn’t appreciate a good picture of a pretty bird? His folios illustrate six birds that are now extinct, so his work informs us f the unknown as it did in the 1830s.
Audubon’s plates are rare birds to find in the market and it is just as rare to find something that has become so timeless and universal that is still seen in the same context 200 years ago as it is today.
These and other singular selections are being offered Sunday, September 25, 2016 at the Destination to Distinction Auction hosted by: E. M. Wallace Auctions and Appraisals