Audubon Prints in Free Display At Pitt

Nov 15, 2011

The University of Pittsburgh owns one of only 120 complete, original sets of John James Audubon's "Birds of America," depicting 1,065 birds of 497 species. In celebration of Audubon Day, more than twenty of the 435 prints included in the set will be on display from 9:00 AM to 4:45 PM on Friday, November 18th, in Room 363 at the Hillman Library, 3960 Forbes Avenue in Oakland.

Michael Dabrishus, Assistant University Librarian, said Audubon traveled the country, often on foot, for many years to produce 175 sets of prints between 1827 and 1838. Some sets were dismantled so that prints could be sold individually. Engravings were made from his original paintings, and water colorists then painted the prints under his supervision. Auction values over the last ten years have been $8 to $11.5 million for a complete set, depending on its condition.

Dabrishus said it's ironic that one of the world's foremost conservation organizations takes its name from a man who shot the birds he wanted to study. Audubon was the first to develop a system of wiring the dead birds into lifelike positions so that he could paint them.

One of the prints on display will be the extinct passenger pigeon, which Audubon painted in Pittsburgh, according to Dabrishus.