Puzzle Detail, John James Audubon

Hyperborean Phalarope, 1834

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John James Audubon, Hyperborean Phalarope, 1834. Hand colored engraving and aquatint. From the Collections of the Tides Institute & Museum of Art.

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More about this work.

This work of art is a large hand-colored engraving and aquatint by American artist and naturalist, John James Audubon (1785-1851), of a Hyperborean Phalarope. The print is based on a watercolor Audubon completed from a drawing he did of the bird in this border region during one of his two trips to the area in 1831 and 1833 on his way to Labrador. Audubon observed and drew several birds during his time in the area where he stayed in Dennysville and Eastport, Maine and visited Grand Manan, New Brunswick and the Fundy shore of Nova Scotia. In addition to the Hyperborean Phalarope, the other drawings included the Lincoln Sparrow (named for Audubon’s Thomas Lincoln of Dennysville), Harlequin Duck, and Thick Billed Murre. The Hyperborean Phalarope print (19 3/4”/50.2 cm x 12 1/4”/31.1 cm) is Plate CCXV of Audubon’s massive Birds of North America that contains 435 life-size watercolors by Audubon of North American birds (including the birds drawn in this area) printed between 1827 and 1838, all reproduced from hand-engraved plates by Robert Havell. The Hyperborean Phalarope was engraved and printed in 1834. The Tides Institute acquired the print at the Heritage Auction in Dallas, Texas and raised the necessary funds to secure the print. At the time of his encounters with the Hyperborean Phalaropes, Audubon wrote: “As we advanced eastward in the month of May, we saw more and more of them, and while at Eastport in Maine my son JOHN shot several out of flocks of sixty or more. At one time a flock consisting of more than a hundred was seen in the Bay of Fundy. They were exceedingly shy, and the gunners of Eastport, who knew them under the name of Sea Geese, spoke of them as very curious birds.” 

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