AUDUBON, John James (1785-1851)
Common or Virginian Deer
[Pl. 136] New York: J. J. Audubon, 1844. Lithograph after John Woodhouse Audubon, coloured by hand by J. T. Bowen of Philadelphia. 19th century oak frame with gilt fillet. Sheet size: 21 1/2 x 27 1/2 inches.
A fine image from the greatest illustrated natural history work to be produced in America during the nineteenth century, the first folio edition of Audubon's quadrupeds: "As long as our civilization lasts, America will be in debt to this genius" (Roger Tory Peterson).
This very fine plate is among the most desirable images from the first folio edition of John James Audubon's The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America. Of the Virginia, i.e. white-tailed, deer, Audubon would write: "Perhaps no species of wild animal inhabiting North-America, deserves to be regarded with more interest than the subject of our present article, the Common or Virginian Deer; its symmetrical form, graceful curving leap or bound, and its rushing speed, when, flying before its pursuers, it passes like a meteor by the startled traveler in the forest, exciting admiration." This fine image aptly depicts those words, with the defined muscular tone of the deer suggesting their impressive agility.
The production of the Quadrupeds was begun by John James Audubon and his sons at about the same as the commercially-successful octavo edition of The Birds of America . Unlike the double-elephant folio Birds , the Quadrupeds was produced entirely in the United States. William Reese notes that "by 1843 the Audubon family business was a well-oiled machine, involving John James, his two sons, Victor and John Woodhouse, and various in-laws and friends. The octavo Birds was still in production when J.T. Bowen began to produce the plates for the elephant folio edition of the Quadrupeds , the largest successful color plate book project of 19th-century America. It took the family five years to publish 150 plates in thirty parts. The massive project was a commercial success, thanks to the close management of Victor. There were about three hundred subscribers" ( Stamped with a National Character pp.58-59).
Cf. Bennett, p. 5; cf. Reese Stamped With A National Character 36; cf. Sabin 2367; cf. Wood, p. 209.