By Jana Cunningham, communications specialist, University Marketing and Communications
Thirteen oversized, hand-colored prints created by naturalist John James Audubon (1785-1851) have been donated to the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library by Lonnie and Shannon Paulos. The prints, originally appearing in Audubon’s books in the 19th century, have a combined estimated value of more than $250,000. The prints will be on display for the media, July 12, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., on level five at the J. Willard Marriott Library with a public exhibition to follow.
Housed in the Rare Books Department of Special Collections, 12 of these stunning pieces feature mammals from Audubon’s imperial folio “The Quadrupeds of North America.” The remaining print, entitled “Black Vulture/Carrion with Prey,” is from Audubon’s landmark book “The Birds of North America,” which contains 435 plates of birds and is one of the most famous and highly valued publications in American history. At one time, the oversized first edition held the record for the highest price of a printed book sold at auction, at over $11 million.
After the original edition of “The Birds of North America” was produced (1827-1838), Audubon began work with his two sons and naturalist John Bachman on the “The Quadrupeds of North America.” This work focused on mammals, and was smaller in both scope and execution than the “Birds” and contained 150 plates. The size of the prints are roughly 22 inches by 28 inches versus the “Birds” 39.5 inches by 28.5 inches. The printmaking technique differs between the two projects as well: copperplate etching and aquatint for the “Birds” versus stone lithography for the “Quadrupeds.”
“This donation increases our Audubon holdings significantly,” said Todd Samuelson, assistant dean for special
collections. “This remarkable collection brings together many of the most iconic and sought-after images from the ‘Quadrupeds,’ with each plate professionally presented in museum-style frames.”
The type of framing Samuelson refers to carries the advantage of showing the full page floated behind the mat, allowing researchers to see the complete sheet of paper, including the description and acknowledgements printed below the image.
“These images are justifiably famous as they belong to one of the great scientific and artistic endeavors of the 19th century, a milestone in natural history and book production and a tribute to the history of America and the West,” added Samuelson.
The public is invited to the Audubon exhibition featuring the new prints, as well as other natural history materials from Special Collections. This exhibition is free and open to the public and will run July 13 – September 9 in the Special Collections Reading Room on level 4.
The Audubon Plates
“The Quadrupeds of North America”
Plate 57: Bison
Plate 62 Elk
Plate 73: Big Horn Sheep
Plate 76: Moose
Plate 77: Antelope
Plate 91: Polar Bear
Plate 96: Cougar
Plate 106: Black Tailed Deer
Plate 111: Musk Ox
Plate 126: Caribou
Plate 128: Rocky Mountain Goat
Plate 141: Black Bear
“The Birds of America”
Plate 106: Black Vulture or Carrion Crow