We are very pleased to announce the display of one of Yale University’s most iconic objects: the Double Elephant folio of John James Audubon’s The Birds of America. On loan from Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, two of the Beinecke’s four volumes will be on view on the Museum’s third floor, adjacent to Birds of Connecticut.
Born in what is now Haiti, John James Audubon (1785–1851) was the son of a French planter and a Creole woman from Santo Domingo. He moved to the United States in 1803 and for more than 10 years drew and painted American birds, chiefly from life. The 435 illustrated plates in The Birds of America—showing a total of 1,055 birds—were engraved and hand-colored. Published by subscription between 1827 and 1838, 135 of the 175 to 200 complete sets of plates still exist today.