John James Roseate Spoonbill

John James Roseate Spoonbill

John James Audubon, b Les Cayes. Haiti. 1785. d New York. NY, 1851
Roseate Spoonbill. 1835-8. Engraving on paper. h64.7 x w95.2 cm. h25V. x w3714 in. From The Birds of America. 1835-8.

John James Roseate Spoonbill

From its odd, spoon-shaped bill to each fantastic pink feather, this bird has been depicted with immense care. Audubon’s desire to classify the birds he observed in North America, coupled with careful scientific research, resulted in the splendidly illustrated book Birds of America which included 435 plates.

Audubon trained to be a painter alongside the famous French Neo-Classicist Jacques-Louis David. He coupled his skills as a painter with a passion for ornithology to create a practical use for his training. Even though the book on birds concentrated on North America, Audubon had to travel to Britain to find funding for his work. Ultimately it was published in America and Britain, and remains both a beautiful work of art and an important scientific document. He spent the last seven years of his life compiling a companion volume, The Quadrupeds of America, which also combines exquisite illustrative skills with naturalistic knowledge.