Happy 235th Birthday to John James Audubon!
John James Audubon (1785 - 1851), American Silver Fox
Plate CXVI of The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, 1845 - 1848
St. Louis Mercantile Library Special Collections at the University of Missouri-St. Louis
It seems as if John James Audubon (1785-1851) was meant to be born amidst a springtime filled with birdsong. Maybe that was what entered his subconscious when he came into this world April 26, 1785, and the Mercantile Library, which knew through our founders the great ornithologist and his family, want to recognize his birthday this week with some of his immortal images of the most beautiful creatures of the American wilderness created in the 19th century.

Audubon was never a stranger to the Mississippi Valley and to frontier St. Louis, and in successive periods of his life was sheltered, welcomed and celebrated in St. Louis and Missouri. By the 1840’s he was so famous that the entire city seemed to turn out to wave him on his way for his great hunting trip for animal subjects in the Rockies to paint and publish in his Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, which our founding president subscribed to sight unseen. It is still a treasured part of the collection.

The Mercantile also owns one of three family reserved copies of the double elephant folio of  Birds of America, Audubon’s greatest legacy to the world and the Library’s greatest cultural patrimony to the city, where it has been preserved, used, studied and treasured for generations and seen and appreciated in recent years by hundreds of UM-St. Louis students for the inspiration it offers in art, history, science and literature. Happy Birthday to one of America’s greatest artistic spirits!
John James Audubon (1785 - 1851), Greater Flamingo
Plate CCCCXXXI of The Birds of America, 1826 - 1838
St. Louis Mercantile Library Special Collections at the University of Missouri-St. Louis
View more Audubon prints from the
Mercantile Library Fine Art Collection here.
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