July 27, 2013–May 11, 2014

Audubon's Birds, Audubon's Words

Life-sized prints from The Birds of America paired with Audubon’s words

As author and illustrator of The Birds of America, John James Audubon (1785–1851) traveled thousands of miles throughout the United States and Canada to seek out and draw North American birds in their natural habitats. In the book’s enormous pages—each more than three feet high—Audubon captured the full range of avian life in North America, including many exotic creatures. Produced in England and issued in a limited edition between 1827 and 1838, only about 120 complete copies exist today. This exhibition features prints from the MFA’s copy of The Birds of America and some smaller works by Audubon. The artist was also a gifted writer, and the exhibition pairs his birds with his words, offering insight into Audubon’s methods, obsessions, and the trials associated with his giant project.

Above: John James Audubon, The Birds of America, Plate 321, Roseate Spoonbill (detail), 1824–38. Etching and aquatint, hand colored. Gift of William Hooper.

  • Edward and Nancy Roberts Family Gallery (Gallery LG26)


John James Audubon is sponsored by Northern Trust.
With support from the Eugenie Prendergast Memorial Fund, made possible by a grant from Jan and Warren Adelson.