Monday, January 11, 2010
The Clements Library has recently acquired a hand-colored lithograph of a wolverine from John James Audubon's The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America (New York: 1845-48). It is now on display inside the back entrance of the building. Appropriately, as the first Audubon piece owned by the Clements Library,* it illustrates an animal famous on campus as the University of Michigan mascot.
A naturalist and painter, John James Audubon (1785-1851) was best known for his illustrations of North American birds, published in his masterwork Birds of America (1838). His paintings were based on extensive field observations, and combined scientific accuracy with artistic poses in natural settings. Audubon's final work, The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, was a study of American mammals in collaboration with his sons and Rev. John Bachman.
*The University of Michigan Special Collections has a complete set of Audubon's famous Birds of America, the first book purchased for the University of Michigan library in 1838. This book has been on display in the new Audubon Room in the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library.