A rare first edition copy of John James Audubon’s masterpiece “Birds of America,” which includes 435 hand-colored illustrations, sold at Sotheby's in London Tuesday night for 7.3 million pounds ($11.5 million), a record for any printed work. Paying well above the previous record of $8.8 million for another copy, the buyer was London-based art dealer Michael Tollemache, according to Businessweek.
While Audubon has the spotlight, his contemporary Alexander Wilson, considered the father of American ornithology, should also be remembered. In 1804, this neighbor of Philadelphia's famed naturalist William Bartram set off (before Audubon) to document America's birds. Wilson covered 10,000 miles of frontier to document 264 birds before he died young. A small exhibition of his work is on view in Santa Barbara, Calif., through January 2, 2011, and is accompanied by an illustrated 25-page catalog. Read more: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
"Cult Statue of a Goddess," one of the most beautiful classical sculptures extant, not to mention the most costly antiquity the J. Paul Getty Trust ever acquired, will be returned by the Los Angeles-area Getty Villa to Sicily in January. Although the Getty never admitted wrongdoing in their purchase, Sicilian authorities contend the over 7-foot goddess was illegally excavated in the late 1970s. Read more: Los Angeles Times
A rare landscape by John S. Jameson, the prodigy of Hudson River School leaders Frederic Church and John Kensett, more than doubled its high estimate to fetch $64,660 at Rago's Dec. 4 auction. Few works by Jameson exist; he died at age 22 in a Civil War prison. Read more: ARTFIXdaily's ArtWire