American # 4988

Carolina Parrot by John J . Audubon Chromolith J. Bien, NY Circa 1860 Plate 278
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Carolina Parrot From The Birds of America. Drawn from Nature and published by John J. Audubon. Chromolith by J. Bien. New York 1860. Plate 278 John James Audubon (1785 – 1851) was an American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. He was notable for his extensive studies documenting all types of American birds and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats. The Birds of America is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed.
The Bien edition prints of the Birds of America were produced by the Audubon family (by Audubon’s younger son John Woodhouse, with assistance from elder brother Victor Gifford), and thus are properly termed originals. Unlike the Havell edition prints which were produced in England, the Bien Edition prints were produced completely in America. Thus, they are truly American originals. In 1858, about seven years after John James Audubon passed away, his younger son John Woodhouse Audubon initiated an ambitious project to reissue the Birds of America to solve some of the mounting financial problems. He recruited the Roe Lockwood Company in New York city to publish the works and Julius Bien for lithography. Unlike the Havells which were produced from copperplate engraving, Julius Bien utilized the newly emerging chromolithography process as a way of reducing the costs of production. Chromolithography utilized different sets of printing stones (about 6 or more) to produce a given plate, some with different colors to produce the final colored image. Some of the final prints were hand-colored in specific areas to enhance the image. The use of different stones occasionally resulted in very slight misregister of colors on the dark outlines of birds and background, thus serving as a charming reminder of chromolithography process. Larger images were printed on a single page as in the Havell edition, whereas smaller images were printed two per page (e.g., see 336/333-Semipalmated and Curlew Sandpipers in this gallery). All the larger images as well as some smaller images carry the credit "Chromolithy by J. Bien, New York, 1860” (but some with years between 1858 to 1862). Thus these images are commonly referred to as the Bien edition plates. Unfortunately, the start of the Civil War in 1860 brought an abrupt end to this project (and a financial ruin to the Audubon family) after only about 105 pages were printed. It was said that about 100 copies of each page (with bird images) were produced, but most of them did not survive. The Bien edition prints are more scarce to find than the Havell edition prints. For an excellent introduction to the Bien edition, please see the book "A Guide to Audubon's Birds of America" by Susanne M. Low.
$ 9,800 Retail
54.5" T / 42.5" W / 2.25" D
# 4968