Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Birds in Art

Last year, a rare 1st edition of John James Audubon's early 19th-century illustrated book in four volumes, Bird's of America, sold at Sotheby's for 11.7 million dollars.  What is it about birds that inspires our imaginations and interior design?  Would the book have sold for that record amount if it were about, say, chairs or bathtubs?  

Leonardo da Vinci, sketch of birds in flight, circa 1506
Humans have been fascinated by the natural world, and particularly birds, for centuries.  

Birds in Art is an annual juried exhibition of 100 works, in a variety of artistic styles (not including photography or crafts), of two- and three-dimensional artworks depicting birds and their environments.  The exhibition is presented by the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin.  

The museum is located in a 1931 English Tuduor period Cotswold-style residence.  Brick walkways lead visitors through the four acres of grounds, including the Margaret Woodson Fisher Sculpture Garden, and a formal English garden.

The Birds in Art exhbition runs from September 10th to November 13th.  

If you are a bird lover but Wassau is a little far for you, each year 60 works are selected for a traveling exhibition.  Venues and dates as of now are:

Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure
Salina, Kansas
December 3, 2011 - January 8, 2012

Brookgreen Gardens
Pawleys Island, South Carolina
January 28 - April 22, 2012

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
Kalamazoo, Michigan
May 25 - July 28, 2012

Loveland Museum/Gallery
Loveland, Colorado
August 18 - October 28, 2012

University of Alaska/Anchorage
Anchorage, AK
November 17, 2012 - January 20, 2013

Love these books!  Great reading from our library:


Images: 1.University of Pittsburgh Library 2. The Biblioteca Reale, Turin


  1. There truly is something special about birds. Early on we collected original John Gould handpainted bird prints. We have sold most but I do still have my prized pair of Toucans (in fact just walked them up to the loft to see if they would work there just last week;) that were illustrated/painted by his wife Elizabeth and Edward Lear who populized the limerick!
    It was so lovely of you to include the cities where the exhibit will travel to- I so wish one of them was closer to me!


  2. When I saw that flamingo roll up, I had to smile. I owned a print of that years ago and loved it. Can you believe the Audubon book went for that soaring amount?

    I adore birds, and I find that some of my favorite china patterns and fabrics both include them as well as some of my favorite artwork. My sister had a series of antique Gould prints that my niece now has in her home. I have a Marie Hull oil painting of a shorebird that is pretty amazing, and an oil of a heron in a tidal pool that was a gift this past Christmas. Then I bought myself a portrait of an egret from a friend who was studying feathers. In addition to his feathers, his eye is just astonishing as seen in profile.

    Love the parrot in that second print, and I've always been fascinated by Leonardo's drawings of wings. I appreciate the list of places where the exhibit on birds is showing. Pawleys would be the cloest in terms of proximity to me.


  3. I agree, I never seem to get enough birds and butterflies in fabrics, wallpaper, engravings and other images. Must be something to do with the idea of flight.


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