Audubon mouse print sells for $11,250

01/04/2012

Naturalist John James Audubon is best known for his efforts at documenting American birds, but he dabbled in other species as well.

Witness the sale of a hand-colored lithograph of the Audubon print “Common Mouse” by Doyle New York recently, auctioned for $11,250.

Produced by J.T. Bowen in 1846 from The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, the work is 21 inches by 27 inches.

The sale price was double the pre-auction estimate of $4,000-$6,000, according to Doyle’s.

Two other Audubon prints were also sold during the recent auction: “Common American Wildcat,” also from The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, which went for $10,625; and “Blue Jay,” from famed tome The Birds of North America, which sold for $7,500.

The Quadrupeds of North America was prepared in collaboration with his friend Rev. John Bachman of Charleston, who provided a good deal of the scientific text, while his son, John Woodhouse Audubon, drew many of the plates.

Audubon collected specimens sent to him by friends, and in 1843 made a final expedition up the Missouri River to do more field work.

He envisioned Viviparous Quadrupeds as the definitive record of all North American mammals, according to the Paul Mellon Library of Americana.

However, Bachman, an experienced naturalist, warned Audubon that he had underestimated the scope of the mammal population and they agreed to eliminate bats and marine animals.

By 1846 Audubon was in failing health and increasingly dependent on the contributions of his son, John Woodhouse, who eventually completing half the plates for the work, while another son, Victor, served as editor and business manager.

The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, illustrating 150 species, was published in its entirety following Audubon’s death in 1851.

Quadrupeds of North America was the outstanding work on American mammals of its time and a superb example of color lithography, according to the Mellon Library of Americana. “Audubon included many frontier animals never before depicted, and his landmark publication helped foster a public appreciation of American nature.”

(Above: “Common Mouse,” from The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America by John James Audubon.)

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