Catalog Archive
Auction 143, Lot 790

John James Audubon's Famous Wild Turkey

"Wild Turkey Meleagris Gallopavo", Audubon, J. J.

Subject: Birds

Period: 1858 (dated)

Publication: The Birds of America

Color: Printed Color

26 x 39 inches
66 x 99.1 cm
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This original chromolithograph is Plate 287 from the double-elephant folio Bien edition of Audubon’s great work on American ornithology. Audubon traveled throughout the U.S. and recorded 435 life-size images of every native bird in the country, depicting them in natural poses in their native habitats. This handsome engraving of a male Wild Turkey shows the majestic bird standing next to Giant Cane. It is believed that Audubon painted this bird circa 1825 while staying at the plantation of Mrs. Robert Percy near St. Francisville, Louisiana. The full sheet measures 26.2 x 38.8".

Julius Bien was among the pioneers in developing chromolithography (an early form of color printing) in the United States. The Bien edition was initiated by John Woodhouse Audubon, the younger of the two Audubon sons. Originally conceived to be a full reissue of the 435 images in 44 parts consisting of ten images each, the project was discontinued in 1860 after only 15 parts had been issued. As a result, these plates are even rarer than the first Birds of America edition.

The double-elephant folio Havell edition of Audubon's Wild Turkey (Plate 1) recently sold at auction for an impressive $170,800. Along with the American Flamingo, Snowy Owl, American Swan, and Blue Heron, the Wild Turkey is one of the most desirable of Audubon's birds.

References: Low, p. 28.

Condition: B+

Bold original color. Several creases, which are quite common on this print due to its position in the book, have been professionally pressed and reinforced on verso with archival material. A few small tears and chips in blank margins, two of which enter 1/2" into image, have also been professionally repaired. Very nearly an "A" example.

Estimate: $17,500 - $19,500

Sold for: $7,100

Closed on 2/13/2013