It’s the end of term and we all need a break! Download our free Audubon Coloring Cook and relax with some nature and coloring!
Download and print here
This coloring book includes a selection of images that have been translated to line drawings from John James Audubon’s Birds of America folio. The Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign proudly holds a complete original set of this monumental work in our collection.
Birds of America is widely considered to be the archetype of wildlife illustration, and one of the most important works on North American ornithology. Printed between 1827 and 1838, it contains 435 plates depicting North American birds at life-size scale.
Audubon drew and painted his magnificent works from specimens he arranged, but his watercolors were actually transferred to the engravers’ plate by the talented Robert Havell, Jr. The prints themselves were produced by a combination of engraving, aquatint, and etching and were hand-colored in Havell’s studio. The plates were printed and initially sold by subscription in groups of five. Impressions were later bound in four volumes and, owing to their impressive size, are often referred to as “the double elephant folio.”
Thanks to the vision of the late Robert B. Downs, Dean of the University Library from 1943 to 1971, the Library acquired an original bound set of Birds of America in 1948. This set is one of only 120 remaining complete sets of the original printing. After decades on display, the volumes were disbound in 1988 as part of an extensive restoration project in which each individual plate was professionally and painstakingly restored. Thanks to the foresight and generosity of the University of Illinois Library Friends, Audubon’s legacy will continue to inspire and delight generations to come!
Audubon, John James, et al. The Birds of America; from Original Drawings. London: Pub. by the author, 1827-1838. Rare Book & Manuscript Library Call Number: F. 598.2 Au2