John James Audubon (1785-1851)

Robert Havell Jr. (1793-1878)

Great Blue Heron

John James Audubon (1785-1851), artist
Robert Havell, Jr. (1793-1878), engraver
1834, etching and aquatint on paper, hand-colored
38 1/2 x 25 3/16 inches (97.8 x 64 cm)

Audubon’s Great Blue Heron demonstrates his artistic mastery of ornithological subjects. To portray large birds life-sized, he needed a large sheet of paper. He and his printer used a sheet approximately 39 1/2 inches by 26 1/2 inches, called a double elephant folio. For the largest birds, Audubon still needed to fit the bird on the sheet. He used a graceful and life-like pose depicting the heron searching for food. The pose also allowed the artist to depict the wings dramatically and with great detail.