SPECIMENS OF BIRD FEATHERS & AUDUBON'S HAIR ; .Formerly Properties of The Heirs of Grace Phillips Johnson [Audubon, John James] Relics collected by G
= $7,500.00 + $5.00
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Offer updated on 12/8/2021
Tall folio (16 3/4" x 10 1/2" & 1/4" overlap), tri-fold green watered-silk case over boards with label, containing seven small envelopes (4 1/4" x 2 1/2") suspended in leather straps, each envelope contains a folded paper containing and protecting specimens of bird feathers from five different species of birds; plus a tangled strand of twisted gold wire wrapped with black thread; and a significant [~ 9"] lock of his hair---each envelope or piece being annotated in venerable ink identifying specimens once belonging to John James Audubon. Christie's catalogue description for item 104 [page 112]: "AUDUBON (JOHN JAMES) FEATHERS FROM FIVE BIRDS, and Two Other Relics, each group carefully folded in paper and labelled." The "two other relics" are a gold twist and LOCK of AUDUBON's famous HAIR. Audubon once described himself . and his luxuriant hair as follows: "I measured five feet, ten and one half inches, was of fair mien, and quite a handsome figure.hair, fine texture and luxuriant, divided and passing down behind each ear in luxuriant ringlets as far as the shoulders." (our italics; Rhodes, p.5). Note, too, that Audubon's hair turned white in his later years (see Chancellor, color portrait of JJA, p.170). AUDUBON SPECIMENS have been docketed by an early hand in ink on envelopes housed in the green portfolio: 1) "Wren Tail, 1814 [? Rustinline] Friday Morning" [Quotation on a specimen envelope.] Editorial comments: On his birthday in April 26, 1812, Audubon turned 27 and had relocated to Flatland Ford in time for the spring bird migrations. Outside his studio, a pair of house wrens had nested, which periodically dove into the garden, pleasantly sang, and often looked in through the studio window at Audubon and his wife Lucy. "One morning I took it [the house wren] in to draw its portrait, and suiddenly closing the window, easily caught it, held it in my hand, and finished its likeness, after which I restored it to liberty." (Rhodes, p.102 citing JJA's comments on Birds of America, plate 83) When the War of 1812 wrecked his finances, JJA bought a large log cabin in Henderson, Kentucky, and moved in during early 1813. A year later, as the co-owner of two general stores, Audubon had serious concerns about the British blockade and ravaging of Washington, D.C., though spent much of his time happily as a merchant, with his family, hunting or on birding expeditions during which he also sometimes collected live birds. These activities--combined with depradations to his pictures by nest-building rats--caused there to be no images of birds he likely viewed or drew during the period from 1815 (when JJA was 30) to 1820 (Rhodes, p.116). This makes the specimens of birds he collected that have been dated 1815 & 1817 very special. JJA prepared "The House Wren" (Plate LXXXIII, or 83) for The Birds of America. "'Look at the little creatures,' he wrote about 'these charming birds that had nested in an old hat,' anxiously peeping out or hanging to the side of the hat,...
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