American Scoter Duck
Scientific Name: Melanitta nigra americanaArtist: after
John James Audubon
, American, 1785 - 1851
Thomas Campbell Eyton
, British, 1809 - 1880
Robert Havell Junior
, British, 1793 - 1878
Material and Medium: hand-coloured engraving and aquatint on paper
Dimensions: Frame: 500 x 670 x 17mm
Sight size: 321 x 495mm
Accession Number: CGSG00224
This plate comes from Audubon's 'Birds of America', which is considered to be one of the most beautiful illustrated books ever produced. Audubon observed and painted many of the birds and their habitats from life, but also shot and stuffed birds so he could study them properly. He wired them into positions he had witnessed the birds make, so that they appear more lifelike in the actual watercolours.
Nevertheless, Audubon was worried by large-scale hunting, and saw 'Birds of America' as a way of recording America's birds for conservation purposes. In addition, Audubon arranged the book’s 435 plates for visual effect rather than scientific accuracy to make the book interesting to art collectors as well as people interested in birds.
The Audubon plates in the Ruskin Collection were collected originally by the ornithologist Thomas Campbell Eyton, who cut up and folded his plates so they would fit in folders he had made to hold his collection of 7000 bird images.