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Audubon's Perfect Pitch: Songbirds

April 06, 2016
June 19, 2016

John James Audubon, a perfectionist by nature, exercised tight control over the production of the hand-colored etchings in Robert Havell Jr.’s shop during the production of The Birds of America. He approved one hand-colored impression of each print, sometimes annotating the sheets with his corrections. These so-called “pattern proofs” served as the models for the colorists in Havell’s shop, helping them to uniformly apply the approved tonalities to match Audubon’s original watercolors. To celebrate spring, the New-York Historical Society exhibits seven of the watercolors with their corresponding “pattern proofs,” including Common Yellowthroat and Carolina Chickadee, as well as a letter from Audubon to Havell (1827) that mentions the lack of uniform coloring and his desire to remedy the situation. Curated by Roberta J.M. Olson, Curator of Drawings at the New-York Historical Society.

Creative: Tronvig Group