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Happy 226th, J.J. Audubon!

April 26, 2011

Blissful birders! Google has posted a beautifully birdful logo in honor of John James Audubon’s 226th Birthday! Here it is (but don’t try to click on the Audubon site; the excess traffic has caused the site to crash, alas):

I didn’t know that John James was actually born Jean Jacques and also happened to be the illegitimate son of a sailor. What is more, it turns out he studied painting in Paris under Jacques Louis David (definitely not my favorite painter, but if neoclassicism is your persuasion, then chances are you’ll love him). I had no idea that Audubon ended up in Philadelphia in order to avoid being drafted for the Napoleonic Wars. Had Audubon Sr. (the sailor) not sent his son to the US, John James Audubon may well have ended up writing a book called Birds of the Russian Empire instead of his magisterial Birds of America. Ah, the twists of fate.

I haven’t yet read Katherine Govier’s Creation, which is a fictionalized account of Audubon’s life, but it looks fabulous and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

In any event, Happy Birthday, Audubon (1785-1851)! Here is a portrait of him in his explorer’s garb:

And yes, in case you were wondering, Audubon did in fact shoot every single bird he painted, but we forgive him since the paintings are so stunning.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2011 9:52 pm

    The David story is almost certainly false, right up there with the rumor that JJA was the lost Dauphin.

  2. April 26, 2011 9:53 pm

    But the influence of David on Audubon’s painting is enormous and clear.

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