Audubon, John James. Great American Cock Male—Vulgo (Wild Turkey—)  Meleagris gallopavo

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Lot 2399
Audubon, John James.
Great American Cock Male—Vulgo (Wild Turkey—)
Meleagris gallopavo

Sold for US$ 86,500 inc. premium

The Gentleman's Library

16 Nov 2011, 10:00 EST

New York

Property of various owners
Audubon, John James.
Great American Cock Male—Vulgo (Wild Turkey—)
Meleagris gallopavo
Hand-colored engraving with etching and aquatint by William Home Lizars, circa 1827, on J. Whatman paper with watermark dated 1826, sheet size 38 7/8 in. x 25 3/4 in., float-mounted and framed.

Footnotes

  • Engraving number one in Audubon's first edition, double-elephant folio Birds of America. The wild turkey, that "true original Native of America" in the words of Benjamin Franklin, was chosen by Audubon to be the first image seen in his masterpiece. The composition is one of the most ambitious in the entire work; Audubon notes in his journal that he chose it in part to "prove the necessity of the size of the work" (December 4, 1826). It encapsulates the qualities for which Audubon became famous: it is large-scale and life-size, and conveys a sense of movement and suspense within a naturalistic setting. In this case that setting is the canebreak near Beech Woods, Louisiana where Audubon spotted the bird which inspired the picture.
    See Danny Heitman "A Naturalist's Feast for the Eyes" WSJ, Nov 2010; Audubon and His Journals, vol 1, 1897.
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