A remarkable new book and exhibition on the first publication to document North American animals

  • Audubon’s Last Wilderness Journey: The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America

    Audubon’s Last Wilderness Journey: The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America

John James Audubon's Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America is the largest and most significant color plate book printed in the United States in the 19th century, and a fitting monument to the genius of America’s most famous ornithologist, naturalist and painter. Measuring an impressive 27 11/16 × 21 ¼ inches the Quadrupeds was first published over 1845-1848 in three volumes, containing 150 different quadrupeds (four-footed) mammals, and was the artist’s final great natural history work.

"Audubon's Last Wilderness Journey: The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America" reproduces all 150 original, hand-coloured lithographic prints, supported by new photography of the original three-volume Imperial Folio Edition (the subject of ongoing conservation work) which is owned by Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University and is the subject of ongoing conservation work.

Essays by noted experts in the fields of art history, conservation and life science put this remarkable publication in context, explaining its art-historical and scientific legacy. They consider the lithographic process and its history, and how the series was originally created, the zoological aspects of the series, including classification issues and new species, locations, plus the wider importance of the pre-settlement wilderness and how our relationship towards nature has changed since the 1850s.

The book additionally will include transcripts from the journal kept by Edward Harris, cashier to the 1843 expedition, describing the everyday details of their journey and the animals they encountered, as well as a letter, written in 1851, from Audubon’s son Victor to Harris, detailing the circumstances of his father’s death.

Ron Tyler is the former director of the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas. Marilyn Laufer is director at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University, Alabama. Charles T. Butler is director emeritus of the Columbus Museum, Columbus, Georgia. Dennis Harper is curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University, Alabama. Daniel Patterson is professor emeritus of English Language and Literature, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant. Sarah Zohdy is an assistant professor at the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, Alabama. Robert Gitzen is an assistant professor at the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, Alabama. James B. Armstrong is a professor at the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, Alabama. Christopher A. Lepczyk is a professor at the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, Alabama.

“In the Louise Hauss and David Brent Miller Audubon Collection, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art is fortunate to have strong, quality representations of this lesser-known series,” says museum director Marilyn Laufer, describing “The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.” “For this immersive project, our curators and wildlife scientists explore 19th-century naturalism through a 21st-century lens.”

A companion exhibition of the same title is on view at Auburn through May 6, 2018. In addition to the Imperial Folio, curators gathered loans from the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, paintings by John Woodson Audubon produced as part of the original folio production process, a diary of the journey and assorted artifacts from Edward Harris Collection at the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

“Along with the prints intact in the folios and loose sheets displayed on the walls, we have a 55-inch monitor and interactive touchscreen that allow the audience to scroll through each print and see an expanded view of the animal in crisp detail,” says Dennis Harper, museum curator of collections and exhibitions. Harper said the pages of each folio will be turned once a week to display new images. Selections were made as to best display a variety of the quads ranging from the American black bear to the common mouse in a variety of landscapes and habitats.

For more information about Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, go to jcsm.auburn.edu

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For Further Information and Review Copies:
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Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University
901 South College Street
Auburn, Alabama
jcsmauburn@gmail.com
334-844-1484
http://www.jcsm.auburn.edu/index.html
About Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University

Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University is one of Alabama’s leading art museums, housing approximately 2,000 works of art ranging from traditional to contemporary. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the museum is among the top museums in the United States and stands as the center of visual arts for the Auburn community. The goal of the museum is to engage Auburn University students, staff, members and visitors in a unique, imaginative experience. Located just minutes from Auburn University’s central campus, the museum consists of seven galleries, an auditorium, a café, gift shop and botanical gardens. As a part of the university, the museum represents the commitment and dedication Auburn has to advancing the arts community.

Press Contact:
Charlotte Hendrix
Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University
P: 3348441484
crh0035@auburn.edu
 

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