John James Audubon was one of the young country’s dominant wildlife artists. He had a collection of over 435 paintings. George Bird Grinnell, one of the founders of the early Audubon Society in the late 1800s, choose Audubon’s name for an organization whose earliest work was to protect birds and their habitats.
While a businessman, Audubon would travel down the Ohio River to Western Kentucky and set up a dry-goods store in Henderson. He drew birds as a hobby increasing his impressive portfolio.
It was after this that he started taking painting seriously. He decided to paint America’s beauty. In 1826, he sailed with his partly finished collection to England. He found a printer for the Birds of America, first in Edinburgh, then London and later collaborated with the Scottish ornithologist William MacGillivray on the Ornithological Biographies.
The last print was issued in 1838, by which time Audubon had achieved fame and a modest degree of comfort, travelled the country in search of birds and nature. Audubon’s story is one of triumph over adversity. He represents the spirit of young America, when the wilderness was limitless and enticing.
He was a person of legendary strength and endurance, as well as a keen observer of birds and nature. He had a deep appreciation and concern for conservation; in his later writings he sounded the alarm about destruction of birds and habitats. It is fitting that today we carry his name and legacy into the future.
Source: John James Audubon
© National Audubon Society