LOW, Susanne M.
A Guide to Audubon's Birds of America: A Concordance Containing Current Names of the Birds, Plate Names With Descriptions of Plate Variants, a Description of the Bien Edition, and Corresponding Indexes
New York and New Haven: Donald Heald and William Reese Company, 2002. (11 1/2 x 8 3/4 inches). 384pp., 436 black & white illustrations in the text (illustrating each of the plates in the double elephant folio), 10 colour illustrations.
Gilt stamped blue cloth, illustrated dust jacket.
A comprehensive reference work for collectors, dealers, art historians, students of natural history, and bird enthusiasts. With new up-to-date information, revisions, and extensive additions (including a section on the Bien edition), superseding and surpassing her earlier work.
This beautifully produced book provides easily accessible information about each one of the 435 plates in the double elephant folio, including variant plate names, names of the birds in the octavo and Bien editions, and the current names of the birds according to the American Ornithologists Union's most recent Checklist, as well as pertinent historical details about the creation of each plate and discussion of taxonomic changes. A special feature of the book is the section devoted to the description of each of the plates in the comparatively little-known Bien edition. The informative introduction details the history of the creation of the double elephant folio. This includes a description of the collaboration between Audubon and the men who transformed his originals into prints, W. H. Lizars, Robert Havell Sr., and, most importantly, Robert Havell Jr., with discussion of the artistic techniques involved in the process. Ornithological taxonomy is also succinctly explained, and will help the reader to understand some of Audubon's difficulties as well as the evolution of bird names. The descriptions of the double elephant folio plates are followed by three indexes: one of current names of the birds depicted, one of double elephant folio plate names, and one of the names on the original paintings, thus offering the reader several ways to locate a particular bird or plate. Similarly, the Bien section is also followed by indexes of current names and plate names. In addition, there are three appendices. The first identifies the persons whose names appear in the nomenclature of The Birds of America. The second appendix describes the unusual composite plates that appear in some editions, and the third contains charts of the most complicated situations that arose from the transfer of Audubon's originals to the finished plates. Finally, a beautiful colour insert illustrates a few of the more interesting situations that are described in the book, such as colour differences between prints of the same bird, comparison of an Audubon original and corresponding print, and comparison of variant plate legends, among others.