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The Birds of America is a classic, but it has never been explored like this before. This volume presents the dazzling watercolours that Audubon painted for these monumental engravings. We are all familiar with the prints--engraved by Robert Havell Jr. But this book illuminates the original masterpieces that were created by Audubon himself, as well as telling the story behind their creation with fresh insights and engaging quotes from his writings. These powerful images - all newly photographed using state-of-the-art techniques - possess a startling immediacy, vibrancy, and fluidity that link natural history, art, and a respect for the environment. These watercolours transmit Audubon's devotion to his craft with their inscriptions and layers of media wrought with a miniaturist's attention to detail and revolutionary compositions which for the first time in history depict all the birds lifesize. They thrust you directly into the scene - you are embedded with Audubon in the forests of young America, observing these amazing creatures in their natural habitats. In fact, as the essays reveal, Audubon is considered America's first great watercolourist, introducing innovative approaches developed over a lifetime of study. Even judged alongside today's technology, his dramatic tableaux remain some of the most spectacular natural history documents and visually arresting works of art ever produced. The first quarter of the book consists of three substantial essays, each fully illustrated with colour figures: 1) Audubon, An American Icon: A Biographical Sketch by Roberta Olson, 2) Audubon and the Traditions of Ornithological Illustration by Robera Olson, and 3) My Style of Drawing: Audubon's Artistic Workshop and Practices by Marjorie Shelley. Then comes the plates section with full-page reproductions of 112 of the best of the watercolours, each accompanied by a pagelong caption explaining each bird's habits and habitat as well as notes on the artistic techniques used, woven through with Audubon's own words. At the end is a thumbnail index with smaller reproductions of the remaining 362 watercolours that exist, followed by a catalog listing of all the watercolours, a chronology of Audubon's life, a bibliography, and index.