John James Audubon was America's most prominent and celebrated ornithilogist, so much so that this portrait of him now hangs in the White House. His dedication to the thorough and accurate documentation of America's birds was (and still is) unsurpassed, and resulted in some truly beautiful images. Audubon was a talented painter and possessed a strong sense of aesthetics and composition, setting his images apart from previous works of a similar kind. He was also a hunter and taxidermist, skills which he used to create life-like images of the birds he painted, always incorporating elements of their habitat and lifestyle such as tree branches, nests, eggs, flowers and associated wildlife. For a lengthy and fascinating history of the man I recommend visiting his Wikipedia page, or one of the many websites dedictaed to his work. Otherwise, just enjoy these examples of his stunning bird paintings, the complete collection of which can be purchased in The Audubon Society baby elephant folio edition of his magnum opus, Audubon's Bird's of America.
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