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Audubon Bird Prints Shown


Early bird paintings and prints of John J. Audubon are on display on the first two floors of Widener Library. The exhibition, prepared by the College Library and the Museum of Comparative Zoology, commorates the 100th anniversary of the ornithologist's death.

George W. Cottrell, Jr., Editor in the University Library, pointed out that "these relatively crude drawings show the gropings toward profuse detail that are realized in 'Birds of America'." Appended to these originals are comments in the artist's poor English and worse French.

King-sized Book

In 1827-38 Audubon published his magnum opus, "Birds of America." His determination to represent even the largest birds in life size dictated the folio's enormous dimensions, 39 1-2 by 29 1-2 inches. As a result the book is referred to as the double elephant edition.

Mr. Cottrell considers the folio, which contains 435 hand-colored plates, an excellent example of the art of aquatint. In 1833 a group of faculty members bought a 87-part subscription to the book. Mr. Cottrell estimates "that a set might now be worth at least $15,000."

The exhibition, which closes March 1, mainly compares the original drawings with the plates. Some of Audubon's manuscripts, letters, and accounts are also included. Aslo his only surviving life mask is displayed.

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