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Peep Show

Audubon mania hits NY

For the first time ever, the New-York Historical Society will present a large-scale, multi-media exhibition of its flock of rare, original Audubon watercolors, Audubon`s Aviary<>/i> (opening February 18 until March 27). The show is not to be missed. (Literally) For this virtual aviary of 40 paintings - including Carolina parakeets, flamingos, egrets, blue jays and parrots - will not see the light of day again until 2015.

Remarkably fragile, the watercolors can only be exhibited once every 10 years, and then only in an environment that protects them from exposure to light. The complete collection of 435 watercolors has its own natural migration ? and bird watchers would need to make a visit to N-YHS every year for the next ten-years to view the entire collection. The exhibit will be available for preview on Wednesday, February 16th, at 10 AM at The New-York Historical Society, 77th Street and Central Park West, NYC. To preview the exhibit or for more information email Donald Kaplan of Rubenstein Associates Public Relations at dkaplan@rubenstein.com or ring 212 843-8065

Also for the first time, the famed bird portraits will be shown in a surround-sound of tweets and chirps, including bird calls of now-extinct species. An accomplished musician, Audubon frequently described birdcalls and songs as an integral part of his species identification. To suggest Audubon`s observations in the wilds, visitors will hear periodic birdcalls in a supplementary four-dimensional sound program. A short video will underline Audubon`s mastery at encapsulating each bird`s personality and unique physical characteristics in a single image.John James Audubon (1785-1851) painted 435 amazing watercolors in the wilds in preparation for his sumptuous, double-elephant folio print edition of ,i>The Birds of America
(1827-38). The full set of 435 watercolors (which the Society purchased from Audubon`s widow) is shown on a ten-year cycle, with each group migrating back into an environmentally controlled storage until it is time for them to reappear before the public eye.

The Society`s is the largest single repository of Audubonia in the world, allowing the paintings to be shown in the context of other historical objects, including: Audubon`s own portable writing desk and purse for tipping, sewn by his wife Lucy Bakewell Audubon, ornithological models (including Blue Jay specimens in case on loan form the Natural History Museum), and mounts demonstrating Audubon`s technique of drawing from specimens as well as from nature. All to tell the story of Audubon`s magnificent obsession, with the world-renowned The Birds of America and the genius of this buckskin-wearing American ornithologist with a French accent.

The complex transatlantic genesis of The Birds of America was a fascinating saga of collaboration and entrepreneurship, as well as a great love story. The project involved Audubon`s entire family and that of his talented London engraver, Robert Havell, Jr. Its success pivoted around many journeys in the United States and Europe in quest of specimens and subscribers, together with Atlantic crossings to supervise the production of the plates in Havell`s London studio.

4th July 2014