Authorised form of nameAudubon; John James (1785 - 1851)
ForenamesJohn James
Dates1785 - 1851
Dates and placesBirth:
Les Cayes, Santo Domingo (26 April 1785)
27 January 1851
Buried in Trinity Cemetery at 155th Street and Broadway, New York City, USA
ActivityBorn in Haiti in 1785 to a sea captain and his mistress, he grew up in revolutionary France and came to America to avoid Napoleon's draft. By way of Philadelphia and Kentucky, Audubon settled in Louisiana in 1821. There he gave lessons to plantation belles and spent long days shooting birds and then painting them. He propped up dead birds with wires and meticulously recorded their colouring and conformation. He was self taught as an artist and naturalist. For his masterpiece 'Birds of America' Audubon portrayed his avian subjects in dramatic action and settings, as with the barred owl about to pounce on a curiously unsuspecting squirrel. In every case, Audubon observed the natural setings and created a scientific record still of value today.

When he travelled to Europe in 1826 seeking a publisher, he was hailed as 'The American Woodsman'. The Royal Society in London elected him a Fellow, and he lectured on American wildlife to, among others, a young Charles Darwin, His success allowed him to purchase an estate in the Hudson River Valley in New York.

His last project was the mammals of North America, left unfinished at his death in 1851.
Royal Society activityMembership:
Election Date:
Published works'Birds of America'; with William MacGillivray 'Ornithological Biographies' 1863; 'Vivparous Quadrupeds of North America' completed by his sons, text written by his friend Lutheran pastor John Bachman
Bulloch's Roll; DAB
'Freemasons and the Royal Society: Alphabetical List of Fellows of the Royal Society who were also Masons' Library and Museum of Freemqasonry, 2010, page 5
Royal Society codeNA5891
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
A/0201Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)
A/0200Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster)
A/0204Roseate Spoonbill (Ajaia ajaja)
A/0205Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)
A/0203Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
EC/1830/15Audubon, John James: certificate of election to the Royal Society
A/0202American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
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