John James Audubon (1785-1851),
Was the America's dominant wildlife artist. His seminal Birds of America, a collection of 435 life-size prints, is still a standard against which 20th and 21st century bird artists, are measured.Audubon was born in Santo Domingo (now Haiti), and from a young age took a lively interest in birds, nature, drawing, and music. At the age of 18 he left for America. Later Audubon began his epic quest to depict America's avifauna, with nothing but his gun, artist's materials, and a young assistant. Floating down the Mississippi, he lived a rugged hand-to-mouth existence.In 1826 he sailed with his partly finished collection to England. His life-size, highly dramatic bird portraits, along with his embellished descriptions of wilderness life, hit just the right note at the height of the Continent's Romantic era. Audubon found a printer for the Birds of America, first in Edinburgh, then London.Audubon spent his last years in senility and died at age 66. He is buried in the Trinity Cemetery at 155th Street and Broadway in New York City.