AUBURN – The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art has opened a new exhibition, “Audubon’s Final Achievement: The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America,” on view from April 2-July 3 in the newly reopened Louise Hauss and Davis Brent Miller Audubon Galleries.
Of the original bound volumes of “The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America,” many sets were taken apart for individual display or sale. The Jule Collins Smith Museum has, as part of its permanent collection, The Louise Hauss and Davis Brent Miller Audubon Collection, an exceptionally fine, complete set of the bound first edition of “The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.”
The Quadruped folios are being displayed for the first time at the Jule Collins Smith Museum. The exhibition is completed with prints on loan from The Museum of the Southwest, Midland, Texas, and two original preparatory oil paints by John Woodhouse Audubon on loan from The John James Audubon Museum in Hendersonville, Ky.
Also on display are objects from the collecting expedition Audubon made in 1843 on loan from the State of Alabama Department of Archives and History. A digital catalogue of all 150 images in the Miller Collection will be available in the gallery on April 9.
Early in the 1840s, John James Audubon decided to collaborate with his long-time friend, the Rev. John Bachman of Charleston, S.C., to produce a folio edition of all the four-legged land mammals of North America. Bachman supplied much of the scientific knowledge to identify and name the mammals. With the assistance of his wife, Maria Martin, the two produced a companion text for each of the three volumes of the publication.
Audubon’s sons, John Woodhouse and Victor, supplied many of the original drawings of the mammals and backgrounds, and managed the business affairs of the project.
“The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America” was published in three volumes of 50 plates each between 1845 and 1848. J.T. Bowen, a printer from Philadelphia, produced the stone lithographs, which were hand finished by watercolorists. Bowen created an estimated 300 sets.
Audobon’s paintings of America’s quadrupeds are still considered the finest animal prints published in America.
Open since 2003, the Jule Collins Smith Museum at Auburn University is Alabama’s only university art museum. Serving as the gateway into Auburn University, the museum has a wide-ranging permanent collection, which includes more than 100 Audubon prints and works by important American modern artists, such as Arthur Dove, Georgia O’Keeffe and Lyonel Feininger.
Admission to JCSM is free in 2010 thanks to the museum’s Business Partners. For more information on the museum, go to www.jcsm.auburn.edu or call (334) 844-1484.
(Contributed by Colleen Bourdeau.)