John James Audubon: finding life in birds

A Touch of France
John James Audubon: finding life in birds

by R. Rhodes, USA

John James Audubon, born illegitimately in Saint Domingue in 1785, grew up in Couëron, on the Loire below Nantes, during the tumult of the French Revolution. His father, Jean, taught him the names and characteristics of local birds; later a family friend, the physician father of the naturalist d’Orbigny, added field collection to his skills and introduced him to Buffon’s Natural History. Jean Audubon sent his only son to America in 1803 to avoid conscription. In the new country, just then beginning to be settled beyond the Appalachian Mountains, young Audubon drew the birds of the western wilderness for his own pleasure whilemarrying, settling in the new state of Kentucky, and establishing himself as a successful businessman. Bankrupted in the financial panic in 1819, he took up portrait drawing to support himself and his family, then grandly conceived of producing an unparalleled work of life-sized colored engravings, The Birds of America, four volumes of plates sized 60×92 centimeters. After years of arduous field work, when he supported himself teaching fencing, dancing, and drawing to the children of wealthy plantation owners in Louisiana, he carried his first 250 drawings to England. There he supervised their production at a London engraving house, sold subscriptions, made further expeditions to America to add new discoveries, and across ten years supported a work of 435 large engravings in an edition of about 200 that would cost about $2 million to produce today. He returned to America in 1839 a famous man.

Medicographia. 2012;34:116-129 (see French abstract on page 129)

American Flamingo.

© Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia/Corbis.

Great Blue Heron.

© Francis G. Mayer/Corbis.

Great Horned Owl.

© Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia/Corbis.

Brasilian Caracara Eagle.

© Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia/Corbis.

American White Pelican.

© Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia/Corbis.

“There is no timber that has not strong roots among the clay and worms,” the Irish poet John Millington Synge declared in a 1907 preface. Art is a timber that grows from strong roots, roots of strenuous practice surely, but also, and at greater depth, the roots of early experience. For many artists that early experience may be more of trauma than of bliss: Art is always a search for meaning, and finding meaning in past trauma is the most effective way of resolving it. John James Audubon, the early-nineteenth-century artist of American birds, himself grew fromstrong French roots along the Loire downriver from Nantes, and particularly in the neighborhood of his father Jean Audubon’s country house in the village of Couëron.

The Audubons owned a two-story limestone villa in Couëron, La Gerbetière, a cool, cream-colored house with a formal garden and an orangery. It was the family’s summer residence during most of John James’ childhood. An easy walk downriver led to the extensive forested marshes below Couëron that Cistercian monks had drained in medieval times, where the boy hunted—and studied—birds.

A Caribbean childhood curtailed

From his birth in 1785 on the eastern Caribbean island of Saint Domingue, where his father owned and operated a sugar plantation, until 1793, the boy had been Jean Rabin, his father’s bastard son by a twenty-seven-year-old French chambermaid, Jeanne Rabin. The infant’s mother had died of an infection within months of his birth. Saint Domingue was France’s most prosperous colony, accounting in sugar and indigo for two thirds of her foreign trade. Jean Audubon had worked his way up from cabin boy to captain in his many years at sea. His shipping profits had paid for his plantation and its several hundred African slaves, though some of the investment had probably come from his wife Anne Moynet, an older widow in France whom Jean Audubon had married.

In 1789, however, Jean Audubon had hastily sold the plantation when slave uprisings on the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique and the first stirrings of revolution in France and on Saint Domingue itself had alerted the shrewd négociant to potential disaster. He invested the proceeds of the sale in another handsome plantation in Pennsylvania just above Gettysburg, a substantial property called Mill Grove— 115 hectares of lush farmland and woods with a two-story fieldstone mansion set high on a steep lawn, stone barns and outbuildings and a working water-powered flour mill down the lawn on broad Perkiomen Creek.

The vagaries of the French revolution

Two years later, in 1791, back in Nantes and an officer in the Republican Guard, Jean Audubon arranged to have his only son and the boy’s younger half-sister Rose, the daughter of a second, quadroon mistress, delivered to him from Saint Domingue. The two children departed their birthplace barely in time; the slave rebellion that eventually established the Republic of Haiti engulfed the island that August. Anne Moynet, who was childless, generously welcomed her husband’s two natural children to Nantes and would raise them as her own.

Portrait of John James Audubon by Scottish artist John Syme. Oil on canvas, 90.2×69.8 cm. Located in the White House,
Washington DC, USA.

© Corbis.

The guillotine was installed as the official method of execution in France just two months after six-year-old Jean Rabin and his four-year-old half-sister arrived at Nantes. Though Jean Audubon had been a colonist and a slave owner, he had taken the Revolution’s measure and wisely joined his lot with the Revolutionists. But the Revolution consumed its own. No one was safe after the King himself was guillotined late in January 1793. Tens of thousands of loyalist peasants rose up against the Revolutionists in the Vendée, the département that bordered Nantes below the Loire.

The Vendéan counterrevolution began in mid-March 1793 when the peasants advanced on Nantes armed with scythes and blunderbusses. The National Guard Blues engaged the ragged peasant army outside the city walls, but the Vendéans fought bravely enough that they were not defeated until June. On 7 March, a contemporary document records, only days before the storm broke, “Jean Audubon, commanding the war sloop Cerberus, vessel of the Republic, aged forty-nine years, native of Les Sables d’Olonne, department of La Vendée, and Anne Moynet his wife, aged fifty-eight years,” justhad time to arrange his two natural children’s adoption at the Nantes town hall, shielding them with the Audubon name and protecting their inheritance. Jean Rabin thus became Jean-Jacques Fougère Audubon, “Fougère”—“fern”—an offering to placate the Revolutionary authorities, who scorned the names of saints.

Counterrevolution was not the worst of it; the worst was the Terror that descended on Nantes in October in the person of a nightmarish Representative, Jean-Baptiste Carrier, sent out from Paris bent on reprisal. Carrier hardly distinguished between Revolutionaries and Loyalists; the Audubons were nearly destroyed. John James Audubon’s future father-in-law heard the story from the artist himself, in America in 1806. “Mr. Audubon,” William Bakewell wrote an English cousin, “gives us some horrid accounts of the cruelties practiced during the time of that monster Robespierre & his agents Carrier & others in Nantes where his father lives. His parents with himself & sister were imprisoned for a considerable time & made their escape in a very dangerous manner.”

The fledgling artist

Great talents have deep roots. Audubon traced his attachment to birds back to the time when he had just learned to walk and to speak. “They soon became my playmates;…I felt that an intimacy with them…bordering on frenzy must accompany my steps through life….None but aerial companions suited my fancy. No roof seemed so secure to me as that formed of the dense foliage under which the feathered tribes were seen to resort.” His father was his first guide and mentor, taking the boy for walks, picking flowers and catching birds for him, sharing his enthusiasm for them and his years of observation from the decks of ships and the shores and forests of France, North America and the Caribbean. It was his father who first encouraged young Audubon to observe them, who “would…speak of the departure and return of birds with the seasons, would describe their haunts, and, more wonderful than all, their change of livery; thus exciting me to study them.”

With a child’s natural avarice he came to wish to possess birds totally. That wish was inevitably frustrated, he wrote, because “the moment a bird was dead, however beautiful it had been when in life, the pleasure arising from the possession of it became blunted.” In Audubon’s era, without cameras or even binoculars, artists had no choice but to draw from dead specimens. One reason bird illustration was so stilted before Audubon and ornithology so limited was that ornithologists and artists worked with stuffed skins rather than complete birds. They hired market hunters to collect specimens for themand deliver only the arsenic-dusted skins, which they stuffed into lumpish form with frayed rope. Field observation had hardly begun; Audubon would be one of the first in North America to study birds in their natural habitat before collecting and drawing them.

In Couëron, however, at La Gerbetière, where the Audubons retreated after they escaped the Terror in Nantes, Jean Audubon found a way to help his cherished son deal with the frustration of death. “I wished to possess all the productions of nature,” the son recalled, “but I wished life with them. This was impossible.” What was to be done? “I turned to my father, and made known to him my disappointment and anxiety. He produced a book of illustrations. A new life ran in my veins. I turned over the leaves with avidity; and although what I saw was not what I longed for, it gave me a desire to copy nature. To Nature I went, and tried to imitate her.”

So a desire literally to revivify the dead lay at the heart of the boy’s struggles to learn to draw birds in lifelike attitudes. The metaphors Audubon used to characterize his early attempts at drawing clearly connect them to his experiences of trauma. “My pencil gave birth to a family of cripples,” he wrote. “So maimed were most of them that they resembled the mangled corpses on a field of battle compared with the integrity of living men.”

A French naturalist in the United States

Audubon’s father secured a false passport for his son in 1803 and sent him to America to escape the conscription of young men into Napoleon’s armies. Jean Audubon had no intention of allowing his progeny to become cannon fodder; as he wrote his business manager in Philadelphia, “This is my only son, my heir, and I am old.” Crossing to America, the eighteen- year-old once again changed his name, this time to John James, the name he would use for the rest of his life (although his English wife, the former Lucy Bakewell, would call him La- Forest, perhaps a variation of Fougère).

Safe in the United States, financially comfortable, living like a young country squire at Mill Grove, John James Audubon finally had the leisure he needed to solve the problem of how to represent birds realistically.

He flourished there. Lucy Bakewell’s younger brother Will left us a vivid impression of his future brother-in-law’s naturalist pursuits:

Audubon took me to his house…. On entering his room, I was astonished and delighted to find that it was turned into a museum. The walls were festooned with all kinds of birds’ eggs, carefully blown out and strung on a thread. The chimney-piece was covered with stuffed squirrels, raccoons, and opossums; and the shelves around were likewise crowded with specimens, among which were fishes, frogs, snakes, lizards, and other reptiles. Besides these stuffed varieties, many paintings were arrayed on the walls, chiefly of birds. He had great skill in stuffing and preserving animals of all sorts. He had also a trick in training dogs with great perfection, of which art his famous dog Zephyr was a wonderful example. He was an admirable marksman, an expert swimmer, a clever rider, possessed of great activity [and] prodigious strength, and was notable for the elegance of his figure and the beauty of his features, andhe aided nature by a careful attendance to his dress. Besides other accomplishments he was a musician, a good fencer, danced well, and had some acquaintance with legerdemain tricks, worked in hair, and could plait willow baskets.

Louisiana Heron.

© Corbis.

Great White Heron.

© Corbis.

Carolina Parrot.

© Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia/Corbis.

Black-Billed Cuckoo.

© Bettmann/Corbis.

By August 1804 Audubon could record the 209th addition to his burgeoning list of American birds, a wood thrush, that pot-bellied, black-speckled relative of the American robin. He was determined now to marry the young woman, Lucy Bakewell, who lived on the next plantation up the hill, whose family had emigrated from England in 1801. His father’s business manager in Philadelphia had taken a dislike to Audubon and had discouraged the marriage; the young lover decided to return to France to win his father’s permission even at the risk of being conscripted. He sailed in mid-March 1805; his ship, held up for a week for repairs, entered the Loire and anchored at Paimboeuf nineteen days later. Audubon soon persuaded his father to agree to his eventual marriage to Lucy, after the young man had found a means to support himself. France, Audubon recalled, “was at that time in a great state of convulsion; the republic had, as it were, dwindled into a halfmonarchical, half-democratic era. Bonaparte was at the height of success, overflowing the country as the mountain torrent overflows the plains in its course. Levies, or conscriptions, were the order of the day, and…my father felt uneasy lest I should be forced to take part in the political strife of those days.” Jean Audubon instructed his son to stay out of Nantes and close to home.

Confinement to Couëron was confinement in a paradise of birds. Audubon soon befriended his family’s thirty-five-yearold physician, Charles-Marie d’Orbigny, a French Navy officer and a passionate naturalist who shared with his new protégé a Saint Domingue birth. He lived nearby with his young wife and infant son. “The doctor was a good fisherman, a good hunter, and fond of all objects in nature,” Audubon wrote. “Together we searched the woods, the fields, and the banks of the Loire, procuring every bird we could, and I made drawings of every one of them—very bad, to be sure, but still they were of assistance to me.”

Honing his skills

Bad or good, Audubon’s Couëron bird drawings, done in pastel and pencil, were the best he could do at the time, largely self-taught as he was; he meant to give the collection to Lucy when he returned to the United States and he worked hard on it. On 4 June he drew a greater redheaded linnet. On 6 June he diverted from birds to draw a fat, furry marmot complete with two pellets of scat dropped behind it like the eggs he sometimes included in his bird drawings; hunters find animals’ characteristic feces almost as useful as their prints in tracking them. He titled the drawing Marmotte de Savoye. He was always a quick study. In the first fourteen days of July he drew a grosbeak, a nightingale, a nut robber, a goelette, a sedge sparrow and a creeper, the last two on the same day. D’Orbigny taught him to weigh and measure his specimens and introduced him to the ten volumes on birds of the Comtede Buffon’s best-selling forty-four volume Natural History, which significantly included field observations, something most contemporary ornithologies lacked.

Fox Squirrel.

© Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia/Corbis.

In August Audubon and his sister Rose stood up beside Charles and Marie-Anne d’Orbigny as godparents to their newborn second son Gaston-Édouard. Their firstborn, Alcide- Charles, was then a lively toddler, not quite three. Testifying to their father’s gifts as a mentor, both sons were destined to become distinguished naturalists, Alcide famously so for his studies in South America.

Another mentor young Audubon learned from was François René André Dubuisson, an herbalist andmineralist who owned a shop on the Rue Saint Jean in Nantes and may have supplied medicinals to d’Orbigny and pastels to Audubon. Dubuisson would be appointed director of the first museum of natural history in Nantes in 1806 (the museum opened its doors in 1810). In a dispute with the town many years later he claimed to have taught Audubon ornithology.

Audubon’s brainwave

Thus instructed, the young would-be artist came to his great breakthrough after he returned to the United States in 1806. Living again at Mill Grove, increasingly frustrated by his inability to make the birds he drew look alive, he experimented both with sketching in the field and with arranging his freshly killed subjects unstuffed. “I betook myself to the drawing of specimens hung to a string by one foot,” he ridiculed one early attempt, “with the desire to shew their every portion as the wings lay loosely spread as well as the tail—in this manner I made some pretty fair signboards for poulterers!” When sketching from life refused to work for him, he tried suspending his freshly-killed bird specimens like puppets. “By means of threads I raised or lowered a head, wing, or a tail and by fastening the threads securely I had something like life before me, yet much was wanting—when I saw the living bird I felt the blood rise in my temples and almost in despair spent a month without drawing, but in deep thought.”

Puppetry led him next to the idea of constructing a manikin, a sort of Universal Bird. During his limited course of formal art training in France he had worked from manikins as well as from Classical sculpture. Thinking about manikins, he “cogitated how far a manikin of a bird would answer for all of them? I labored in wood, cork, and wires, and formed a grotesque figure which I cannot describe in any other terms than by telling you that when sat up it was a very tolerable looking ‘Dodo’! A friend present laughed heartily and raised my blood by assuring me that as far as I might wish to represent a tame gander or bird of that sort my model would do. I gave it a kick, demolished it to atoms, walked off and thought again.”

Florida Jay.

© Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia/Corbis.

Snowy Owl.

© Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia/Corbis.

And then persistence paid its prize: Audubon dreamed the solution to his problem of making birds look alive. “Long before day, one morning, I leaped out of bed fully persuaded that I had obtained my object.” He ordered up a horse, refused to say where he was going and rode off at a hard gallop toward Norristown, eight kilometers away. Since it was still dark, the town was not yet awake, so Audubon rode on down to the Schuylkill River and took a morning bath. Back in Norristown a little later he entered the first shop he found open, bought lengths of wire of several different gauges and galloped back to Mill Grove. His housekeeper thought he was crazy when he rejected breakfast and called for his gun:

Off to the creek and down with the first kingfisher I met! I picked the bird up and carried it home by the bill, I sent for the miller and made him fetch me a piece of soft board—when he returned he found me filing into sharp points pieces of my wire, and proud to show him the substance of my discovery, for a discovery I had now in my brains, I pierced the body of the fishing bird and fixed it on the board—another wire passed above his upper mandible was made to hold the head in a pretty fair attitude, smaller skewers fixed the feet according to my notions, and even common pins came to my assistance in the placing [of] the legs and feet. The last wire proved a delightful elevator to the bird’s tail and at last there stood before me the real manikin of a kingfisher!

Too excited to be hungry, Audubon sat down then and there and drew the bird’s now vivid and three-dimensional outline, using a drawing compass to match the outline to the dimensions of the specimen. “My honestmiller stood byme the while and was delighted to see me pleased. Reader, this was what I shall ever call my first attempt at drawing actually from nature, for then even the eye of the kingfisher was as if full of life before me whenever I pressed its lids aside with a finger.” Sharpened wire pins that allowed him to impale his fresh specimens on a board in lifelike attitudes set them up in a context his previous art training had made familiar. It was a simple system that he could rig from easily available materials wherever he might go in search of birds, and by scribing a grid into the board he could use its parallax to work out the foreshortening that transferring lifelike attitudes from three dimensions to two would require. This arrangement put the grid behind the specimen and made the bird seem to float in space in whatever position Audubon chose to impale it.

Now that he had a way to mount fresh specimens in lifelike attitudes, Audubon still had years of work ahead to master the art of drawing and painting them. As he married, moved west over the Appalachian Mountains into the American interior, set up in the general merchandise business first in Louisville, Kentucky, on the Ohio River, and then on the western Kentucky frontier, he worked tirelessly in his spare hours to study the birds of the American wilderness and to practice drawing them. One way he forced himself to improve was to burn or put out of sight each year’s collection of drawings and effectively start anew. That self-denial led to an event that became a world wide legend when Audubon himself told the story in his Ornithological Biography: upon returning to Kentucky from a visit to Pennsylvania in 1812, the artist discovered that Norway rats had found their way into a trunk containing several hundred drawings and shredded them for nesting material. “Yet after all,” he wrote a friend, “who can say that it was not a material advantage, both tomyself and to the world, that the Norway rats destroyed those drawings?” Elsewhere he added that, as a result of the rat damage, “I felt pleased that I might now make much better drawings than before, and, ere a period not exceeding three years had elapsed, I had my portfolio filled again.” A well-known Japanese woodcut dated 1850 or later commemorates the event, depicting an uncharacteristically mustached and sideburned Audubon surprised and a triumphant rat frisking away.

Birds of America

Audubon considered his two general stores and steam-powered lumber mill in western Kentucky his real business and his bird studies merely a hobby until he went bankrupt along with most other businessmen on the American frontier during a financial panic in 1819. (Ironically, the panic was brought on by the need to finish paying France in gold for the vast Louisiana Purchase that had doubled the size of the United States.) He discovered then that he could earn his living as an artist, selling black chalk portrait sketches of the living and the recently dead, teaching drawing, and painting diorama backgrounds for a new museum.When he conceived of his great work The Birds of America, in 1820, he never looked back: leaving Lucy and their two sons all the money he could raise, he took passage as a pot hunter on a commercial flatboat and collected specimens all the way down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans.

For the next five years Audubon labored to assemble a definitive collection of drawings of American birds while struggling to support himself and his family. The great work of art and ornithology he had decided to produce would comprise four hundred 60×92-centimeter engraved, hand-colored plates of American birds “at the size of life” to be sold in sets of five and collected into four huge leather-bound volumes of 100 plates each, with five accompanying volumes of pioneering “bird biographies” worked up from his field notes. He found a paradise of birds in the pine forests and cypress swamps of Louisiana, north of New Orleans along the Mississippi, where prosperous cotton planters hired him to teach their sons to fence and their daughters to draw and dance the cotillion. Elegant Lucy, when finally she was able to move south, opened a popular school of piano and deportment on a cotton plantation nearby.

Finally, inMay 1826, he was ready.With the equivalent of about ten thousand dollars in gold in his purse as a stake, he sailed from New Orleans on a merchant ship bound for Liverpool with a load of cotton. James Fenimore Cooper’s novel The Last of the Mohicans was a best-seller in England that year; Audubon, with his shoulder-length hair and rough frontier pantaloons, a real-life Natty Bumppo, was soon a sensation. To earn money for engraving he sold tickets to showings of his brilliantly colored, life-sized drawings of American birds, hundreds of them pinned up in public halls in that drab age before aniline dyes that must have flooded the senses of their viewers, for whom America was still a romantic mystery.

He found his first engraver in Edinburgh, a second and better in London. Across the next ten years he, Robert Havell Jr, and a large staff of young women “colorists” produced his fiveplate “Numbers” of The Birds of America, 87 of them in all— 435 engraved, hand-colored plates—pay as you go. Subscribers could keep their Numbers in open folios or, when each hundred had arrived, pay to have them bound.

Audubon paced the flow of funds to his engraver so that, as he said proudly, “the continuity of execution” was not “broken for a single day.” He paced the flow of drawings as well, and before that the flow of collections, returning to America regularly for collecting expeditions to the Carolinas and East Florida, the Republic of Texas, northeastern Pennsylvania, Labrador, and the Jersey Shore. He personally solicited most of his subscribers in England and France and personally serviced most of his accounts. In the end, he estimated that producing his great book cost him $115 640—about $2 million today. Unsupported by gifts, grants or legacies, he raised almost every penny of that immense sum himself from painting, exhibiting and selling subscriptions and skins and supported himself and his family besides.

Paint box of John James Audubon. Private Collection/Photo.

© Boltin Picture Library/Bridgeman Giraudon.

He returned to America in 1839 a famousman, one of only two Americans before 1860 to be elected members of the Royal Society of London, the preeminent scientific society of its day. The other was Benjamin Franklin.

John James Audubon lived through many lives, first as a French colonial, then as a young Frenchman enduring a time of great turmoil in his country’s history, then as an American frontiersman, finally as an artist of international reputation who fused the knowledge of a field naturalist with the skills of a great painter. He was not the first, nor would he be the last, to turn traumatic childhood experience into adult preoccupation and profession, even into art.

Postscript: As this article was going to print, Audubon once again made history at an auction at Christie’s in New York, held on the 20th of January 2012, where a first edition of Birds of America was offered for sale by the heirs of the Fourth Duke of Portland and fetched $7.9 million, going to an American collector whose name was not disclosed. This confirmed Audubon’s monumental opus as the most expensive book in the world, even if it didn’t surpass the $11.5 million record set by an auction at Sotheby’s in London in December 2010. Out of the original 200 copies produced between 1827 and 1838, 120 remain accounted for today, with 107 belonging to institutions and 13 to private individuals.

All illustrations of birds: by John James Audubon, engraved by Robert Havell Jr, published in The Birds of America between 1827 and 1838. The fox squirrels comes from The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, by John James Audubon and John Bachman, originally published in three volumes between 1845 and 1848.

Further reading

Allister M. Refiguring the Map of Sorrow: NatureWriting and Autobiography. Charlottesville VA: University Press of Virginia; 2001.
Appleby J. Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press; 2000.
Audubon JJ. Ornithological Biography, or An Account of the Habits of the Birds of the United States of America; Accompanied by Descriptions of the Objects Represented in the Work Entitled The Birds of America, and Interspersed with Delineations of American Scenery and Manners. Abbeville Press/National Audubon Society facsimile ed. 5 vols. Edinburgh, UK: Adam Black; 1831-1849.
Rhodes R, ed. The Audubon Reader. New York, NY: Everyman’s Library; 2006. – Rhodes R. John James Audubon: The Making of an American. New York, NY: Knopf; 2004.
Berthre de Bourniseaux PYJ. An Historical Sketch of the Civil War in the Vendée. Paris, France: The English Press; 1802.
Blaugrund A, Stebbins Jr, eds. John James Audubon: The Watercolors for the Birds of America. New York, NY: Villard; 1993.
Cooper JF. The Leatherstocking Tales. New York, NY: Library of America; 1985.
Delatte CE. Lucy Audubon: A Biography. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press; 1982.
Drake D. Pioneer Life in Kentucky 1785-1800. New York, NY: Henry Schuman; 1948 (1870).
Dyson A. Pictures to Print: The Nineteenth-Century Engraving Trade. London, UK: Farrand Press; 1984.
Evans HE. Pioneer Naturalists: The Discovery and Naming of North American Plants and Animals. New York: Henry Holt; 1993.
Flannery T. The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and its Peoples. New York, NY: Atlantic Monthly Press; 2001.
Hughes R. American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America. New York, NY: Knopf; 1997.
James CLR. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. 2nd Edition. New York, NY: Vintage; 1963 (1938).
Low SM. A Guide to Audubon’s Birds of America. New Haven, Conn: William Reese Company & Donald A. Heald, 2002.
Mathews JJ. The Osages: Children of the Middle Waters. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press; 1961.
Schorger AW. The Passenger Pigeon: Its Natural History and Extinction. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press;1955.
Shorger AW. The Wild Turkey: Its History and Domestication. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press; 1966.
Sellers CC. Mr. Peale’s Museum: Charles Willson Peale and the First Popular Museum of Natural Science and Art. New York, NY: W. W. Norton;1980.
Stroud PT. The Emperor of Nature: Charles-Lucien Bonaparte and His World. Philadelphia, Pa: University of Pennsylvania Press; 2000.