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BIRDS OF AMERICA BY JOHN JAMES AUDUBON (1785 - 1851)
PLATE 3663 - Engraved by R. HAVELL

ICELAND OR JER FALCON (GYRFALCON)

                                                                                      
CLOSE-UP - John James Audubon's ICELAND or JER FALCON - Falco islandicus


ICELAND OR JER FALCON  - Falco islandicus
Now: Gyrfalcon, formerly Greenland Falcon
Falco rusticolus
DATED 1837

IMAGE REF: AUD053

The original painting has a a cliff face behind the birds but Havell did not include this in the prints. It is not clear from any surviving print exactly what the dark area above the rocks is meant to represent, the original painting shows blue sky here. After much consideration it is believed to depict either low cloud or a fog bank tinted dark pink by a low sun behind and to the left.

All surviving prints have suffered a dramatic darkening of the sky, probably as a result of the decay of the lead white body-colour that has over time converted to black lead sulphide (sulfide) combined with degradation of the gelatine glaze from transparent to dark beige. In most cases this darkening is so intense that the image gives the impression of a night scene. The yellowing of the paper has added to the effect. Both the ground and the grass are extremely dark for the same reason. The original watercolour appears to have not used white lead body-colour, instead the ultramarine blue pigment has reacted with acids in the paper causing it to become super-saturated so as to now render the cliffs and grass in the most unrealistic of  hues.

 

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OVERALL SIZE APPROXIMATE
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A2+ 24 x 18 601 x 452 129.95


A1+ 36 x 24 904 x 601 199.95


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