engravings

Posted by Ellen

Americans know the birds of John James Audubon from prints of his work bound into books, notably Birds of America (1838). The prints were based on watercolors painted by Audubon over a ten-year period beginning in 1827; for some reason, all the paintings are owned by the New-York Historical Society, which rarely displays any of them.

We were able to see some of the watercolors, however, during a recent exhibition celebrating the sesquicentennial of their purchase by the Historical Society, and the great blue heron above caught our eye. It seemed awfully blue; the great blue herons we have seen in real life are all much more grayish; the color reference in their name always struck us as more of a wish than an observation. Audubon, of course, was a world-class observer.

Well, we looked this stuff up on the internets, and the internets all insist that, gosh, the mistake was ours, not Audubon's. The bird above is a little blue heron, painted in Louisiana and native to coastal marshes there and elsewhere around the Gulf of Mexico.

Audubon's great blue heron, below, is properly gray in color, and very, very cool.

Posted by Ellen

Back in the year 1638, in the colonies that would eventually become the U.S. of A., Massachusetts Puritans were busily banning Anne Hutchinson and Swedish Lutherans were building a settlement in Delaware. But in Paris, on the other hand--ah, Paris--the French fashion industry was already edgy and extravagant, as evidenced by this illustration of headdress designs, published as part of a collection titled Ouvrage Rare et Nouveau Contenant Plusieurs Desseins de Marveilleuse Recreation sous Diverses Caprices et Gentilesses.