Lot #435
John J. Audubon

Vivid 1831 draft of Audubon’s bird-watching voyage down the Ohio
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Estimate: $0+


Vivid 1831 draft of Audubon’s bird-watching voyage down the Ohio

Ornithologist and artist (1785–1851) whose monumental pictorial studies of the birds and quadrupeds of North America take a place among the most distinguished accomplishments in the history of zoology and natural history illustration. Remarkable handwritten manuscript draft, unsigned, three pages on two adjoining sheets, 10.25 x 16.25, no date but circa 1831. Audubon’s working draft for an article entitled “The Ohio,” one of several episodes published in 1831 in Audubon’s Ornithological Biography, intended to accompany his Birds of America. In this essay, Audubon recalls his voyage down the Ohio River from Pennsylvania to Kentucky, In part: “It was in the month of October, the autumnal tints already decorated both the shores of that queen of rivers, the Ohio. Every tree was hanging with long and flowing festoons of different species of vines, many loaded with fruity and varied brilliancy…the mellowing yellow leaves…now had become prominent over those still green reflecting far livelier groups of tints on the transparent stream than ever was portrayed or imagined by any landscape painter…[O]ne evening not far from Pigeon Creek…some loud & strange noises were heard, so resembling the yells of Indian warriors, that we pulled our oars and made for the opposite side as fast and as quietly as possible—the sounds increased, we imagined we heard the cries of 'Murder' and…we were rendered extremely uncomfortable for a while—however ere long our minds became more calmed & we plainly discovered that the singular uproar was nothing more than the produce of the meeting of an enthusiastic set of Methodists who…[were] holding one of their annual camp meetings…I hope to read ere I close my earthly career, accounts from these delightful writers of the progress of civilization in our western Country—they will write of the Clarks, the Croghans, the Boons and many other Men of great and daring enterprise—they will analise…each component part of the country as it once existed and thereby immortalise it as it deserves to be for ever!” Audubon makes several corrections and emendations in ink throughout the text. In fine condition, with a few small stains and trivial paper loss to the final page. Accompanied by an impressive custom-made leatherbound clamshell case. Previously sold at Sotheby’s, 2010. Audubon issued his classic Birds of America between 1827 and 1838 as a monumental four-volume set, with Ornithological Biography published in five volumes between 1831 and 1839; the passage here offered appears on pages 29–32 of the first volume. He continued making expeditions throughout North America during this period, observing birds in areas from Key West to Newfoundland. An absolutely outstanding piece closely associated with Audubon’s most famous work. Pre-certified PSA/DNA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autographs and Artifacts
  • Dates: #444 - Ended January 14, 2015

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