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Audubon painting

Swann Galleries to sell J.W. Audubon painting Dec. 17

Audubon painting
John Woodhouse Audubon (1812-1862), ‘California Gray Squirrel,’ oil on canvas, 13¾ x 22¼in. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000. Swann Galleries image

NEW YORK – Maps and atlases, natural history and color-plate books are on the auction block at Swann Galleries on Thursday, Dec. 17. The sale will feature a strong showing of world cartography, as well as a standout selection of historical prints and paintings of the natural sciences. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

Natural history and color-plate works shine, with John Woodhouse Audubon’s original life-size oil portrait of a California Gray Squirrel (above), circa 1853, leading the sale at $30,000 to $50,000. The Audubon name is synonymous with art of the natural world. Most renowned for his iconic Birds of America, master naturalist John James Audubon expectantly encouraged and cultivated his two sons Victor Gifford and John Woodhouse to chase his passions for illustrating American wildlife. The work comes to auction by direct descent through the artist’s family. Works by John James Audubon feature in the sale with Night Heron or Qua Bird, offered at $25,000 to $35,000, and Black-Billed Cuckoo, at $4,000 to $6,000, both hand-colored aquatints and engraved plates from 1835 and featured in Audubon’s Birds of America.

Audubon painting
John James Audubon, ‘Night Heron or Qua Bird,’ Plate CCXXXVI, hand-colored aquatint and engraved plate from Audubon’s ‘Birds of America,’ 25½ x 37¾in. Estimate: $25,000-$35,000. Swann Galleries image

Further works of the natural world include William Jardine’s The Naturalist’s Library, 1843, with over 1,200 hand-colored engraved plates of animals, birds, fish and insects ($2,000-$3,000). A group of 30 uncolored folio engravings from Hortus Eystettensis, 1613, by Basilius Besler is present ($7,000-$10,000), in addition to other floriculture works including Henry Andrews’s The Botanist’s Repository, for New, and Rare Plants, 1797 ($3,000-$5,000), and Alfred Cogniaux and Alphonse Goossens’s Dictionnaire Iconographique des Orchidées, with 803 fine small chromolithographed plates printed between 1896 and 1907 ($2,500-$3,500).

From 1511 is one of the earliest attainable printed maps to show the New World by Bernardus Sylvanus at $20,000 to $30,000. The modern geography is given stylish treatment with hachuring around the landmasses to add depth and with windheads surrounding the representation.

Audubon painting
Bernardus Sylvanus, ‘Untitled World Map,’ double-page woodcut map of the modern world,17 x 22½in sheet size, Venice, 1511. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000. Swann Galleries image

Additional world maps feature Typus Cosmographicus Universalis, Basel, 1532, by Sebastian Münster with elaborate woodcut borders designed by Hans Holbein the Younger ($10,000-$15,000); a prize example of Johannes Blaeu’s Nova et Accuratissima Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula, 1662, one of the most striking 17th-century Dutch world maps ($8,000-$12,000); and a circa-1504 Ptolemaic world map printed in Strasbourg with decorative windheads by Gregor Reisch ($3,500-$5,500).

Audubon painting
Johannes Blaeu, ‘Nova et Accuratissima Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula,’ double-page engraved double-hemispheric map of the world, 20½ x 24in sheet size, Amsterdam, 1662. Estimate: $8,000-$12,000. Swann Galleries image

Maps of America are featured in Henry Popple’s Map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish Settlements Adjacent Thereto, London, 1733 ($1,200-$1,800); a scarce map of the United States from (Matthew) Carey’s General Atlas of 1796, the first of its kind to be engraved and published in America ($1,800-$2,200); and W.J. Keeler’s National Map of the Territory of the United States from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, Washington, 1867 ($2,000-3,000).

Audubon painting
Mathew Carey, ‘Carey’s General Atlas,’ 17×11 inches, Philadelphia, 1814. Estimate: $2,000-$3,000. Swann Galleries image

Atlases and books containing maps are present with John Gibson and Emanuel Bowen’s Atlas Minimus, or a New Set of Pocket Maps of the Several Empires, Kingdoms and States of the Known World, London, 1758 ($2,500-$3,500); a rare 1803 immigration guide offering prospective European settlers a frank account of the drawbacks and opportunities of pioneering within the wilderness of the eastern United States ($1,800-$2,200); a scarce early-American geography manual with 25 of the 60 maps pertaining to the United States by Nathan Hale from 1830 ($500-$750); and an example of Famiano Strada’s Famiani Stradae Romani e Societate Jesu de Bello Belgico, Rome, 1643-48, a historical compendium on the Dutch War of Independence against Spain ($1,000-$1,500).

Historical prints of note include a rare series of seven large-format tinted lithographed plates from Isla de Cuba Pintoresca, circa 1865, showing panoramic landscapes of Cuban towns and harbors by Eduardo Laplante ($5,000-$7,500). Currier & Ives is featured with Winter Morning. Feeding the Chickens, 1863, a large folio hand-colored lithograph of a mother and a young daughter tossing scratch to the chickens on a snowy morning ($1,200-$1,800), as well as and an original box of Charles Currier No. 3 Lithographic Crayons, with nearly the entire gross of crayons intact in unopened individual packet wrappers ($500-$750). William Hogarth’s first independently published work, Masquerades and Operas; or The Bad Taste of the Town, 1724, rounds out the offering ($1,200-$1,800).

Additional treasures feature an astonishing large hand-drawn typographical devotional composition with over 150 engraved scenes of the Old and New Testament from the mid-19th century Britain ($2,000-$3,000); and Wagashi Seiho Koshu Roku Zokuhen, 1920, with 156 pages of color printed woodblock plates of traditional Japanese confectionary designs and recipes ($700-$1,000).

The specialist on this Swann Galleries auction is Caleb Kiffer, or 212-254-4710 x 17.

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