20 Gamebird Illustrations by John J. Audubon

Exquisite depictions of waterfowl, upland birds, and more.

 

Walking into the North Carolina Museum of Art several years ago, I hardly expected to see anything wildlife-related. There were a few classical pieces that depicted hunting scenes, like those by Jean-Baptiste Oudrey (see the upcoming July/August issue of Sporting Classics for more on him), but that seemed to be the extent of sporting art.

In a bottom level of the museum, tucked away in an obscure wing, was something to delight the heart of any bird hunter. Our sporting kinsman John James Audubon was displayed in all his glory; the gigantic book of his illustrations, The Birds of America, was laid open to display its wood duck content, complete with the matching bird specimens mounted in nearby cases. It was an amazing sight to say the least.

John James Audubon was born April 26, 1785, and died Jan. 27, 1851, at the age of 65. His 231st birthday would have been this past Tuesday.

Immigrating from the present-day country of Haiti, he quickly became enamored with the birds of the United States and even helped discover 25 new species. His ornithological and artistic work, aided by his gun, took the world by storm. He became known as “the American woodsman” in England, and began the first bird-banding project in North America.

In describing his life after moving to the U.S., Audubon said: “Hunting, fishing, drawing, and music occupied my every moment; cares I knew not, and cared naught about them.”

The following images, generously made available by the National Audubon Society, show Audubon’s talent and love for gamebirds. Feast your eyes on the wonders he created in that Edenic atmosphere described above.

 

Plate-1,-Wild-Turkey-final
Wild Turkey

 

Plate-17,-Carolina-Pigeon-final
“Carolina Pigeon” (Mourning Dove)

 

plate-76-virginian-partridge-final
“Virginia Partridge” (Bobwhite Quail)

 

Plate-156-American-Crow-final
American Crow

 

plate-201-canada-goose-final
Canada Goose

 

plate-206-wood-duck-final
“Summer Duck” (Wood Duck)

 

plate-221-mallard-duck-final
Mallard

 

Plate-228-Green-winged-Teal-final
Green-Winged Teal

 

plate-232-hooded-merganser-final_save_for_web
Hooded Merganser

 

plate-246-eider-duck-final
Eider

 

Plate-268,-American-Woodcock-final
American Woodcock

 

plate-297-harlequin-duck-final
Harlequin Duck

 

plate-301-canvas-back-duck-final
Canvasback

 

Plate-313-Blue-Winged-Teal-final
Blue-Winged Teal

 

plate-322-red-headed-duck-final
Redhead

 

Plate-325-Buffel-headed-Duck-final
Bufflehead

 

plate-327-shoveller-duck-final
Shoveller

 

Plate-345-American-Widgeon-final
American Widgeon

 

plate-403-golden-eye-duck
Goldeneye

 

Plate-406-Trumpeter-Swan-final
Trumpeter Swan

 

 

 

For more of Audubon’s beautiful illustration plates, visit the National Audubon Society’s website today!

 

 

 

About Taylor J. Pardue

Taylor is the Associate and Online Editor of Sporting Classics. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University (wildlife biology) and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (communication studies). Email him at taylor@sportingclassics.com.

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