Common Mouse, from John James Audubon, The Quadrupeds of North America, 1849-54.
American Mink, from John James Audubon, The Quadrupeds of North America, 1849-54.

38. Audubon, John James (1785-1851).
The Quadrupeds of North America. New York: V. G. Audubon, 1849-1854.

After finishing his monumental Birds of America in 1838, Audubon began collaborating with John Bachman of South Carolina on a similar project on the quadrupeds of North America.  Since specimens of many animals were not available to him, Audubon, at the ripe age of 58, decided to go west to see the wildlife for himself.  In 1843, he embarked on a steamboat in St. Louis and traveled as far as Fort Union on the Missouri.  After a short stay, he returned.  The journey was not all that productive in terms of new animals observed, but Audubon was invigorated enough by the trip to finish his paintings and secure publication.  The folio set of the Quadrupeds of North America appeared between 1844 and 1848; the smaller octavo set, which we exhibit, was published between 1849 and 1854.

Unlike many animal painters of his day, Audubon had a real genius for creating rich tableaux for his subjects.  Seldom have a family of mice had such an elegant setting in which to dine, and the pair of mink are beautifully posed in front of a bubbling stream, defiant of the trappers’ cabin in the background.

Linda hall Library