Skip to main content
Item #30370 Yellow-winged Sparrow. John James AUDUBON, Joseph Bartholomew KIDD, Painter.

AUDUBON, John James (1785-1851), KIDD, Joseph Bartholomew (1808-1889, Painter)

Yellow-winged Sparrow

Edinburgh: c.1831. Oil paint on millboard, R. Davy art supply company label and Christie's sticker on verso. Size: (18 3/4 x 11 3/5 inches).

Provenance: Collection of Lucy Audubon Williams.

An original ornithological oil painting from the Audubon/Kidd collaboration.

One of the rare Kidd paintings stemming from his collaboration with Audubon. In 1827, while in Edinburgh supervising the engraving of the first part of his double-elephant folio The Birds of America, Audubon met a young landscape artist named Kidd, whom Audubon's engraver Lizars had employed to finish the sky in the background behind one of Audubon's birds. Audubon would write in his journal on March 1, 1827, of Kidd: "I admired him for his talents at so early a period of his life, he being only nineteen. What would I have been now if equally gifted by nature at that age?" In the winter of 1831, Audubon would commission Kidd to copy some of his watercolors in oil and paint in the backgrounds, with the intention of holding an exhibition of the oils, selling the paintings, and dividing the proceeds. In July 1831, Audubon sent to Kidd sixty-seven drawings "to be painted in oil by him for one pound each." A notice in an 1832 issue of the Caledonian Mercury details Audubon's plan: "About a year ago Audubon conceived the grand idea of a Natural History Gallery of Paintings, and entered into an agreement with Mr. Kidd to copy all his drawings of the same size, and in oil, leaving to the taste of that excellent artist to add such backgrounds as might give them a more pictorial effect. In the execution of such of these as Mr. Kidd has finished, he has not only preserved all the vivacious character of the originals, but he has greatly heightened their beauty, by the general tone and appropriate feeling which he has preserved and carried throughout his pictures." Kidd delivered to Audubon ninety-four paintings in all. Of those, approximately sixty are extant, including examples at Harvard, the American Museum of Natural History, Princeton, the National Gallery, Yale, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This Audubon image depicts the gentle Yellow-winged Sparrow, or Grasshopper Sparrow (Fringilla passerina), standing on a small stone. The bird would appear in Plate 130 of the Havell edition in 1832, based on the watercolor painted by Audubon in May of 1812. As usual with the Audubon/Kidd oil paintings, the work is unsigned and undated. This painting remained in the possession of the Audubon family until Lucy Audubon Williams, the daughter of John Woodhouse Audubon and Maria Bachman, gave it to George Delancey Zinck, whose signature is on the verso of the board, likely in the 1880s. An inscription on the verso reads, "Painted by J. J. Audubon. Certified by his eldest grandchild Lucy Audubon Williams." Then, a few inches below, it is signed, "Geo Delancey Zinck."

Audubon, Ornithological Biography I, pp.353-357. Bennett, p.5. Fries, The Double Elephant Folio: The Story of Audubon's Birds of America, pp.360-367. Nissen IVB 51. Ripley 13. Sabin 2364. Tyler, Audubon's Great National Work, passim. Wood, p.208. Zimmer, p.22.

Item #30370

Price: $40,000.00