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Audubon’s Art Method and Techniques

Wild Turkeys – John James Audubon

Audubon started to develop a special technique for drawing birds in 1806 a Miill Grove, Pennsylvania. He perfected it during the long river trip from Cincinnati to New Orleans and in New Orleans, 1821.

  1. The freshly killed specimen was mounted in front of a background that was marked off into squares, and was held in place by wires.
  2. Drawing paper 30 x 40 inches in size was used, since it was the largest size available.  Every drawing was made life size.
  3. A rapid outline sketch was made to ensure correctness of proportions; then the outline was transferred, by tracing or otherwise, to the permanent drawing paper.  Details were then added, minute structures of feathers being shown.  Sometimes one bird from an early drawing would be cut out and pasted onto a later drawing.  The composite would be engraved and published.  Certain of Audubon’s bird backgrounds were done by Joseph Rober Mason, George Lehman, and John Woodhouse Audubon.  Some details, notably insects were drawn by Maria Martin Bachman, and at least one bird was drawn by John Woodhouse Audubon.
  4. Pencils, chalks, pastels and water colors were the media used.
  5. Audubon would try to complete a drawing whle the bird was as fresh as possible.  Sometimes, the work on a large bird took two or three days.

While he was in Louisiana, Audubon evolved a general plan for his proposed publication.

  1. The sheets were of the so-called “double elephant folio” size, almost 40 x 30 inches.
  2. Since each bird was drawn life size, several of the tall birds had to be shown bending down to pick up food. (The Whooping Crane was spearing young alligators.)
  3. The plates were issued in groups of five called fascicles, the finished set consisting of 87 groups totaling 435 plates.  In each fascicle he tried to include a variety of size and type of bird.
  4. The price in Great Britain was £182/14s (about $845); in America tariff raised it to $1000.
  5. About 190 of 200 sets were made, of which three were sold in Louisiana, as follows: One set to the Legislature of Louisiana, through Governor Andre Bienvenu Roman. (It is now in the Presbytere.) One set to Mr. James F. Grimshaw, cotton broker, who was also an agent for Audubon.  One set to Mr. Gustavus Schmidt, Attorney at Law.
  6. Publication begun in 1826 was finished in 1838, having been at press for 12 years

Willilam Home Lizars, of Edinburgh, contracted to engrave “The Bird of America,” and he completed the first tenplates.  But labor trouble developed in his shop, and he gave up the job.  Robert Havell, Jr., of London, then took over.  He touched up (or re-engraved) the ten original plates and carried the work to completion.  His work was superior to Lizars’, and also much cheaper.  Prints showing all the structures were made from copper plate; the colors were applied by hand to every print.  The colorists used Audubon’s original drawing as their guide and he often added many handwritten instructions and specifications to the drawing.

After the great project was completed, the copper plates were shipped to New York.  Mrs. Audubon sold the plates to a firm in New York which stored them in a warehouse until 1865.  Around 1873, a few were given away, and the rest were sold as scrap metal.  A fourteen-year old boy watched the priceless plates being thrown into a furnace.  After much difficulty, he prevented the melting of about thirty-seven of the plates.   Some of these were sent to the American Museum of Natural History.  The Smithsonian Institution, Princeton University, and Wesleyan University.  Others were distributed to private individuals.  —Edward S. Hathaway1 – 1966 as published in a soft-cover print book produced by the Louisiana State Museum and Friends of the Cabildo entitled Audubon in Louisiana. 

1.Edward S. Hathaway was a retired professor of Zoology at the time of this publication.  He is mentioned quite prominently in Gordon Patterson’s The Mosquito Crusades: A History of the American Anti-Mosquito Movement from the Reed Commission to the First Earth Day.  According to Patterson, Hathaway was born in 1886 and earned his doctorate in ichthyology and herpetology at the University of Wisconsin after World War I.  He served as professor of zoology at Tulane from 1925 to 1952.  

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Quotations

You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.

— Napoleon

The Treasure of Abbot Thomas – from Ghost Stories of M.R. James

I

Verum usque in præsentem diem multa garriunt inter se Canonici de abscondito quodam istius Abbatis Thomæ thesauro, quem sæpe, quanquam adhuc incassum, quæsiverunt Steinfeldenses. Ipsum enim Thomam adhuc florida in ætate existentem ingentem auri massam circa monasterium defodisse perhibent; de quo multoties interrogatus ubi esset, cum risu respondere solitus erat: “Job, [...] Read more →

The Age of Chivalry

CHAPTER 1 – Introduction

KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS

On the decline of the Roman power, about five centuries after Christ, the countries of Northern Europe were left almost destitute of a national government. Numerous chiefs, more or less powerful, held local sway, as far as each [...] Read more →

The History of Witchcraft in England – The Beginnings

The Beginnings of English Witchcraft

It has been said by a thoughtful writer that the subject of witchcraft has hardly received that place which it deserves in the history of opinions. There has been, of course, a reason for this neglect—the fact that the belief in witchcraft is no longer [...] Read more →

Penal Methods of the Middle Ages

CHAPTER I

PENAL METHODS OF THE MIDDLE AGES

Prisons as places of detention are very ancient institutions. As soon as men had learned the way to build, in stone, as in Egypt, or with bricks, as in Mesopotamia, when kings had many-towered fortresses, and the great barons castles [...] Read more →

Country House Essays Book Now in Print

Country House Essays, the book is now in print. This is an eclectic collection of both original, and historical essays, poems, books, and articles created for our loyal reader hear at CountryHouseEssays.com. It is jam packed with reprints of articles from this website. The cost is $49.95 for this massive [...] Read more →

Clarivoyance by C.W. Leadbeater

Theosophical Society, Adyar, Madras, India, 1890

CLAIRVOYANCE

by C. W. Leadbeater

Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Pub. House

[1899]

CHAPTER IX

METHODS OF DEVELOPMENT

When a men becomes convinced of the reality of the valuable [...] Read more →

Westminster Confession of Faith – 1646

CHAPTER I. Of the Holy Scripture.

Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary [...] Read more →

Growing Muscadine Grapes in Tennessee

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Platform of the American Institute of Banking in 1919

Resolution adapted at the New Orleans Convention of the American Institute of Banking, October 9, 1919:

“Ours is an educational association organized for the benefit of the banking fraternity of the country and within our membership may be found on an equal basis both employees and employers; and in full appreciation [...] Read more →

Parting Words to Kate from The Sloop of War, Jamestown

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Several years ago, I purchased a small memory book entitled Album of Love from the mid 1800s.

Much like scrap books of today, these books were used to keep [...] Read more →

Historic authenticity of the Spanish SAN FELIPE of 1690

Model of San Felipe

Reprinted from FineModelShips.com with the kind permission of Dr. Michael Czytko

The SAN FELIPE is one of the most favoured ships among the ship model builders. The model is elegant, very beautifully designed, and makes a decorative piece of art to be displayed at home or in [...] Read more →

The Late Rev. H.M. Scarth

H. M. Scarth, Rector of Wrington

By the death of Mr. Scarth on the 5th of April, at Tangier, where he had gone for his health’s sake, the familiar form of an old and much valued Member of the Institute has passed away. Harry Mengden Scarth was bron at Staindrop in Durham, [...] Read more →

Classic Restoration of a Spring Tied Upholstered Chair

This video by AT Restoration is the best hands on video I have run across on the basics of classic upholstery. Watch a master at work. Simply amazing.

Tools:

Round needles: https://amzn.to/2S9IhrP Double pointed hand needle: https://amzn.to/3bDmWPp Hand tools: https://amzn.to/2Rytirc Staple gun (for beginner): https://amzn.to/2JZs3x1 Compressor for pneumatic [...] Read more →

A History of the Use of Arsenicals in Man

The arsenicals (compounds which contain the heavy metal element arsenic, As) have a long history of use in man – with both benevolent and malevolent intent. The name ‘arsenic’ is derived from the Greek word ‘arsenikon’ which means ‘potent'”. As early as 2000 BC, arsenic trioxide, obtained from smelting copper, was used [...] Read more →

Books Condemned to be Burnt

BOOKS CONDEMNED TO BE BURNT.

By

JAMES ANSON FARRER,

LONDON

ELLIOT STOCK, 62, PATERNOSTER ROW

1892

———-

WHEN did books first come to be burnt in England by the common hangman, and what was [...] Read more →

U.S. Plant Variety Protection Act – Full Text

UNITED STATES PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION ACT

TITLE I – PLANT VARIETY PROTECTION OFFICE Chapter Section 1. Organization and Publications . 1 2. Legal Provisions as to the Plant Variety Protection Office . 21 3. Plant Variety Protection Fees . 31

CHAPTER 1.-ORGANIZATION AND PUBLICATIONS Section 1. Establishment.2 There is [...] Read more →

The Master of Hounds

Photo Caption: The Marquis of Zetland, KC, PC – otherwise known as Lawrence Dundas Son of: John Charles Dundas and: Margaret Matilda Talbot born: Friday 16 August 1844 died: Monday 11 March 1929 at Aske Hall Occupation: M.P. for Richmond Viceroy of Ireland Vice Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Lord – in – Waiting [...] Read more →

Here’s Many a Year to You

” Here’s many a year to you ! Sportsmen who’ve ridden life straight. Here’s all good cheer to you ! Luck to you early and late.

Here’s to the best of you ! You with the blood and the nerve. Here’s to the rest of you ! What of a weak moment’s swerve ? [...] Read more →

The Hunt Saboteur

The Hunt Saboteur is a national disgrace barking out loud, black mask on her face get those dogs off, get them off she did yell until a swift kick from me mare her voice it did quell and sent the Hunt Saboteur scurrying up vale to the full cry of hounds drowning out her [...] Read more →

The Billesden Coplow Run

Smith, Charles Loraine; The Billesdon Coplow Run, Leicestershire

*note – Billesdon and Billesden have both been used to name the hunt.

BILLESDEN COPLOW POEM

[From “Reminiscences of the late Thomas Assheton Smith, Esq”]

The run celebrated in the following verses took place on the 24th of February, 1800, [...] Read more →

The Kalmar War

The Kalmar War

From The Historian’s History of the World (In 25 Volumes) by Henry Smith William L.L.D. – Vol. XVI.(Scandinavia) Pg. 308-310

The northern part of the Scandinavian peninsula, as already noticed, had been peopled from the remotest times by nomadic tribes called Finns or Cwenas by the Norwegians and Lapps [...] Read more →