Parts Unknown will consider Audubon as an established artist-naturalist, a world citizen, and a celebrity in an expanding nation—no longer the young Frenchman who created the “early birds” displayed in the first installment. This once-in-a-lifetime exhibition follows Audubon into unchartered territories—geographic, artistic, and scientific—as he encountered and mapped new species and grappled with the disappearing illusion of America’s infinite wilderness. It galvanized his awareness about the necessity of conserving species and habitats.
Note: This event is sold out
This spring, the New-York Historical Society celebrates the sesquicentennial of its purchase of the 470 avian watercolors by Audubon, including the 435 models for The Birds of America, from Lucy Bakewell Audubon in 1863.
Smew (Mergellus albellus), Havell plate no. 347, ca. 1834–35
Watercolor, graphite, pastel, oil, and black ink with scratching out and touches of glazing
on paper, laid on card
Purchased for New-York Historical by public subscription from Mrs. John J. Audubon,
His subjects were not glamorous or affluent New Yorkers, but those in the middle and lower class—Bowery bums, burlesque queens, Coney Island musclemen, park denizens, subway riders and post-flapper era sirens. Marsh was fascinated by the crass glamour, gaudiness and sexuality these city inhabitants exhibited in public, as well as by the humanity expressed by those living under severe economic and social duress.
The trilogy Audubon’s Aviary: The Complete Flock is a once-in-a-lifetime series (2013–2015) that will explore the evolution of Audubon’s dazzling watercolors in the order in which they were engraved. Visitors to New-York Historical will have the unique opportunity to view these national treasures sequentially and in their entirety for the first time—the same way his original subscribers received the Havell plates.
Sparrows: Good Things Come in Small Packages
The New-York Historical Society houses an outstanding collection of over twenty-five hundred American paintings—primarily portraits, genre scenes and landscapes—dating from the colonial period through the twentieth century, as well as a select number of European works. It includes the personal collection of the New York merchant and pioneering art patron Luman Reed, as well as the collection of Robert L. Stuart, another nineteenth-century New York philanthropist and art collector.
One of the jewels in the Museum’s crown is its drawing collection, numbering over 8,000 sheets. Collected since 1816, this distinctive trove is the country’s earliest public drawing collection. It is also one of the finest, whose strength resides in its unparalleled late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century material to furnish a comprehensive survey of American art from its inception, dominated by European artists, up through the 1860s, by which time native-born artists had asserted an American identity.
The New-York Historical Society Museum and Library houses a treasure trove of materials relating to the founding of our country, the history of art in America, and the history of New York and its people. The Museum houses more than 60,000 works and artifacts, including fine art, decorative art, historical artifacts, and ephemera. Fine art holdings include renowned Hudson River School landscapes; masterpieces of colonial and later portraiture; John James Audubon’s watercolors for The Birds of America; an encyclopedic collection of sculpture; and much more.