BIRDS OF AMERICA
JOHN JAMES AUDUBON (1785 - 1851)
BARN OWL - RESTORATION NOTES
To see the original, unrestored version, hold your cursor over the image
There were two main problems with the
original print. Firstly, the sky. It seems that Havell "over-cooked" the
shading with his boiled resin etching technique, resulting in the
background tone and most of the shading being overly dark. He then appears to have attempted to correct this
by having his colourists apply a heavy coat of light blue paint to the
Unfortunately the pigments used, believed to be a combination of
un-buffered French ultramarine and white lead, have reacted with
atmospheric sulphides turning the light blue almost black. Lead
white appears to have also been used as a modifier in much of the
your cursor over the image to see the seriously ill effect of this
An indication of the true original sky colour,
as now seen in the above restored version, can be gleaned from the Second Edition
chromolithographic prints all of which display a clear blue sky. The
restoration was a carefully chosen balance between the two.
The second main problem concerned the
right eye of the lower bird. For a description of this error and
its correction please refer to the main page.
It is hard to believe that the
original print was hiding such an exciting image, the full scale version
of which is truly breath-taking. We have not come across any unbound,
double elephant print of the Barn Owl that has not suffered in the
manner described above.
Note: Barn Owls usually fly at
dawn or dusk, they avoid flying at night.