Rare Birds of America collection by John James Audubon on exhibit in Davenport, Iowa PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Art, Galleries & Museums
Written by Angela Hunt   
Wednesday, 23 January 2008 03:47
ImageMOLINE, Ill. (January 16, 2008) The “Birds of AmericaBien edition (1860) by John James Audubon which belonged to John Deere’s son, Charles Deere was recently conserved and re-framed. 48 of the 98 prints in this collection will be on major exhibit at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa from February 2 to May 11, 2008. It is believed that less than fifty copies of this edition exist today. This is a rare opportunity to see a large number of these popular elephant folio (approximately 3’ x 2’ in size) prints. Click our exhibit portal image below to learn more, watch videos, and view a sneak peak photo gallery. Sneak peak at exhibit on the web Visit the interactive “Birds of America: John James Audubon” exhibit website at www.butterworthcenter.com/birds, where you can view a photo gallery, events, watch bird call videos, and listen to a podcast about the local story behind the collection. Image

Although the exact number of Bien Edition folios made is unknown, it is the scarcest of all Audubon original editions. The Bien Edition is the one of the first great examples of the chromolithography printing process in America and remains among the finest examples of this medium ever produced.


When was the collection acquired by Charles Deere?
Charles Deere probably purchased this collection of prints in the 1870s.  This collection is now owned by the historic Butterworth Center & Deere-Wiman House (exhibit sponsor), which is operated by William Butterworth Memorial Trust.


John James Audubon: The naturalist and artist
John James Audubon’s (1785–1851) dream of recording every native bird of North America consumed nearly twenty years of his life. Audubon drew and painted birds from life whenever possible rather than from specimens alone. He took note of the birds' food and habitat preferences meticulously and he watched them move, interact, and behave. He strove for action and reality; this was a new approach to the painting of birds. His attempt to position them as they moved in the wild, using wire armatures to support the specimens, was truly revolutionary.

This original edition, based on Audubon’s vivid life-size watercolors was engraved in aquatint by Robert Havell, Jr. The Birds of America was issued in 87 parts of 5 plates each and when completed in June 1838 contained 435 hand-colored engravings of 1,065 birds of 489 species.


Seven years after their fathers' death, Audubon's sons began an American edition of Birds of America with Julius Bien, a New York printer who was pioneering the field of chromolithography. Bien transferred the images from Havell's copper plates onto lithographic stones.

Events and Programs
A series of events will be available, including family programs, teacher workshops, gallery talks, and poetry readings. Of note,
internationally renowned storyteller and naturalist Brian "Fox" Ellis will portray John James Audubon on February 9. All events are held at the Figge Art Museum unless mentioned otherwise. The Figge is located at 225 West 2nd Street Davenport, Iowa 52801 (Ph. 563.326.7804).

Admission to the exhibit is as follows:
$7.00 adults; $6.00 seniors (60 and older)/students with ID's ; $4.00 children ages 3-12; FREE to members.

Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm; Thursdays 10:00 am to 9:00 pm

Exhibition Gallery Talk

Sunday, February 3; 1:30 pm

Brent Langley, member of the Left Bank Art League and the Quad City Audubon Society, will discuss works in the exhibition from his perspective as a wildlife artist.

Teacher Workshop: “Nature Across the Curriculum: Adventures with Audubon”
Instructor: Dr. Nancy Frakes
Friday, February 8 from 8:30 am-4:30 pm; and Saturday, February 9 from 9 am-1 pm
Cost: $45 (Click here for registration and flyer)

“Getting to Know John James Audubon”
Saturday, February 9; (Free admission to the Figge and Audubon programs from 12:30-3 pm)

Storyteller Brian "Fox" Ellis portrays Audubon at 11 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 3 p.m.. 

Exhibition Gallery Talk "Audubon and His Methods"
Thursday, February 21,
7 pm
Ann Marie Hayes, Figge curator of education, will discuss Audubon's working methods and the printmaking processes used for The Birds of America editions.

Family Program “Birds of the Mississippi River”
Saturday, March 1; (Free admission to the Figge and Audubon programs from 12:30-3 pm) Auditorium program begins at 1 pm
Park ranger Wendy Frohlich will explain how to use a field guide, identify birds by sight and sound and writed field notes.  This program, which is open to ages 8 and up, starts promptly at
1 pm.

Art and Books: John James Audubon: The Making of an American by Richard Rhodes
Wednesday, March 12; 7 pm; Malmros Room, Bettendorf Public Library, Free
Dick Sayles, Quad Cities Audubon Society board member, will lead a discussion of this important biography, published in 2004, the first major Audubon biography in 40 years, and the first to illuminate fully the private and family life of the master illustrator of the natural world.

"The Eye is the Light of the Body: Poetry and Discussion on the Art of John James Audubon"
April 13, 2:30 pm 
Thomas Joswick, professor emeritus of literature at Western Illinois University, will explore the aesthetic, ecological and historical significance of Audubon's art.


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