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April 26, 2012

Joyeux Anniversaire, M. Audubon!

My illustration of John James Audubon showing his Snowy Egret to Pierre-Joseph Redouté 
from my book REDOUTE, The Man Who Painted Flowers 
(please note, I handpainted/copied both artists' artwork. No photoshop here)
April 26, 2012, the 227th birthday of John James Audubon
Born in Haiti on his French father's sugar plantation.
Moving to France in early childhood.
Fascinated by nature, particularly birds.

After the upheaval of the French Revolution and 
the Napoleonic Wars, his father sent 18 year old
Audubon to America. Living on land his father 
owned near Philadelphia, Audubon spent his days 
hunting and fishing and drawing from nature, 
particularly birds.

When Audubon married and had children, 
he tried unsuccessfully to support them. 
So his wife, became a teacher and the 

Meanwhile Audubon decided he would like 
to draw and paint all the birds of America, 
life size and in their natural environment. 
All in one volume. Some of the life size birds 
were huge.

Audubon took his gun, paintbox and 
an assistant. Beginning an epic journey 
that would last 14 years 

Along the way, he traded drawings for goods, 
took and gave painting lessons, in order
to raise money. Freezing in the north, roasting 
in the south. Bugs, danger and disease. 
Still Audubon kept going.

John James Audubon
Nearly finished, he traveled to Europe seeking
subscribers. In those days, publishing such a book 
depended on funds raised from wealthy 
patrons desiring a copy of the finished book.

Among the important and enthusiastic supporters 
he met was Pierre-Joseph Redouté, the great Belgian 
flower painter to Marie Antoinette, Empress Josephine.
Between his exquisite paintings and colorful buckskin clothes,
Audubon made a powerful impression and won subscribers.

Joyeux anniversaire, M. Audubon!

Interested readers can find a copy of John James Audobon's
Bird's of America as well as Redoute's Les Roses and Les Lilacees
among other treasures at The Academy of Natural Sciences library
in Philadelphia.