John James Audubon's sumptuous four-volume edition of "Birds of America", published between 1827 and 1838, contains 435 hand-colored life-size prints of 1,065 individual American birds. A glorious union of science and art, it remains an unequaled achievement in ornithology illustration. In tracing Audubon's quest to produce this groundbreaking work, Vedder draws on the artist and naturalist's own writings and the latest scholarship on his life and on "Birds of America". Plates from the Huntington Library's double-elephant folio are reproduced in color, including the wild turkey, Baltimore oriole, bald eagle, and (once presumed extinct) ivory-billed woodpecker. Vedder provides with each plate a commentary on the unique characteristics of the species depicted, based on Audubon's own observations in the field.
Lee A. Vedder is the Luce Curatorial Fellow in American Art at the New York Historical Society in New York City, serving as the primary curator of its painting and sculpture collections. She holds a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Maryland and specializes in British and American art of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.